Amanda & Merrill

Brothy, Garlicky Beans

March  4, 2014

Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.

Today: Beans full of flavor that will also help you clean out your crisper drawer.

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If you're like me, you get stuck in bean ruts. I make them every week during the colder months because Clara loves them, and so that she doesn't get all her protein from braises and meat-centric pasta sauces. I lean hard on a couple of tried and true recipes, like this soup, and rarely find myself coloring outside of the lines.

More: Eat beans like an Italian and make pasta e fagioli.

Another of our favorites is this lentil soup recipe, which I've made with all manner of legumes. The last time I decided to make it, I opened the crisper drawer to find one sad looking carrot and a couple of limp stalks of celery, with their leaves. I had no onions -- just two scallions, some garlic, and a small bag of shallots. Rather than abort the mission completely, I decided to go rogue.

I threw all of the random bits and nubs in the pot with the beans, cutting them into large rustic chunks instead of a precise dice, and adding some herbs and the rind of a piece of Parmesan that was at its bitter end. Once the beans had softened and plumped, they had absorbed all the flavors of my motley crew of aromatics, and it took all of a minute to scoop out the carrot chunks and herb sprigs.

Maximum flavor, minimal fuss, and a cleaner fridge to boot.

Brothy, Garlicky Beans

Serves 6

1 pound white beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock (homemade or low sodium)
2 medium shallots, halved and peeled
4 fat cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stalk of celery, preferably with its leaves, cut into 3-inch lengths
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
2 scallions or spring onions
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
Sea salt
Parmesan rind (optional but recommended)
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
Grated Parmesan for serving

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom 

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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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I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


steph March 8, 2014
I followed this recipe very closely, but 2.5 hours later the beans were still simmering and still very tough. (But, to be fair, this always seems to happen when I try to cook beans). Any suggestions? I thought maybe I was simmering at too low a heat for the first hour, but I turned it up and still no luck an hour plus later.
Merrill S. March 9, 2014
How new are your beans?
Marie G. March 9, 2014
Are you letting the set them set in hot or cold water? I usually let them set in cold over night, or hot until they swell and feel a litter tender.
Marie G. March 9, 2014
Opp's should be a little tender.
Alice G. March 6, 2014
This came on just the right day when I had NO plans for dinner. I took the spirit if this and made white beans in garlicy, herby broth with kale. It was deleicious with parmesan cheese, olive oil and fresh pepper on top. Thanks for the inspration, MerriLL!
Josh March 6, 2014
Made this last night. The part rind adds so much flavor. Really delicious.
I love this! It reminds me a lot of a Cypriot recipe I make called "fasolada" - minus the parmesan! I love parmesan on just about everything though, (including chicken noodle soup), so look forward to giving this a try next time!
ChefJune March 4, 2014
mmmm hmmmm! This "big kid" would enjoy beans like that, as well.