Broth-Simmered White Beans Are Like a Bowl of Winter Comfort

December 16, 2017

This holiday season we're cooking up a storm, and looking for all the little ways we can make our life in the kitchen just a bit easier. We've partnered with Imagine® Broths to bring you table-ready recipes that are made richer and more flavorful with stock and broth.

I needn't extol the virtues of dried beans. We know, we know: Dried beans are more wallet-friendly than their canned cousins; they're also customizable, better-textured, and "far more delicious."

Get ready, canned beans: you're about to take a bath in vegetable broth and become addictively delicious in no time. Photo by Rocky Luten

But a last-minute dinner, dried beans are not. When it's prime time for holiday parties, gift giving, and never-ending lists, it's canned beans that have your back. And I'll be darned if they can't be just as delicious.

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The key to improving their flavor and texture? Give them a spin through spicy, garlicky olive oil, followed by a hot broth bath, which will boost their flavor through the roof. (If you don't have a container of stock in your freezer or a box of broth in your pantry, the flavor that's added by using broth on these beans is really worth a trip to the store.) Bolster your vegetable (or chicken! or beef!) broth with those Parmesan rinds you've been stockpiling in your freezer, and your beans will taste as if you boiled them from dry with chiles, bay leaves, and halved onions—and you'll find them tender, not mushy.

This recipe, adapted from cookbook writer Molly Stevens by way of Orangette's Molly Wizenberg, starts with bitter escarole that's wilted in garlic-, chile-, and rosemary-infused oil. Once the greens have shrunken, you'll add the beans, the broth (I used Imagine® Vegetable Broth), and a cheese rind, cover the pot, and let all of the ingredients bubble away gently together. The escarole will turn silky and the beans creamy, all while steeping in the spices, herbs, and alliums, and the whole dish will have an added depth of flavor from the vegetable broth.

In just a few minutes, you've changed the simplest pot of vegetables and legumes into an extremely comforting, outright addictive meal that's nutritious enough to bring you down from that sugar (cookie) high.

If you're home alone, season the pot with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, then spoon it over a hunk of dark bread (or, on the coldest, longest night, fried toast). Shower with Parmesan.

If you're serving it to a group of guests, shovel the beans over polenta, orzo, or ditalini and garnish with—this is festive!—fried rosemary sprigs. Shower with Parmesan.

Either way, be sure to serve this in a bowl to hold all the rich soupiness.

Then ask those guests if they think the beans were dried or canned. I dare you.

You may have skipped the dried bean scenic route, but you found a shortcut that's nearly as good—and now you've got plenty of time to plan your holiday pie (or make it through your loooong gift list).

What's your favorite way to spice up canned beans? Let us know in the comments!

We've partnered with Imagine® Broths to bring you table-ready recipes that are made richer and more flavorful with stock and broth. Their Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth is made of real ingredients—no GMOs or artificial flavors—so you can feel good about the food you're cooking, eating, and serving.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Cassandra B. December 20, 2017
I do prefer dried beans, but it's always nice to have a backup!
Susan December 16, 2017
One doesn’t have to sacrifice speed, ease, or flavor. Dried beans once cooked freeze beautifully. Why bother with the canned at all?
Ali S. December 15, 2017
This is soooooo good! I've made it twice already.