This easy-to-make Brothy Beans Recipe is in regular rotation at our home. Large White Beans (Cannellini Beans) are cooked in the oven until they are tender, flavorful, and brothy. Suggested variations to this original recipe and information about other types of white beans are also discussed.

The truth is this; we enjoy this Brothy Beans Recipe so frequently that in the past 12 months, I have purchased 25 lbs of the Large White Beans (Cannellini) that I use to make it. And that’s just for the two of us!

The simplicity of the recipe makes it easy to make and healthy and satisfying in so many ways. It is beans, liquid, garlic, and heat, with a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever herb you want to use. But, you can always ‘jazz up’ your brothy beans with various aromatics, vegetables, meat, cheese, and other additions. We will discuss some of them in a bit.

Overhead shot of Brothy Beans in a white bowl with a spoon.

Technically, you could use any bean for Brothy Beans, but I’m partial to white beans. They produce a clearer, more appetizing broth, and I find Large White Cannellini Beans the creamiest.

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An economical and gluten-free source of protein, White Beans also contain high levels of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. White beans are a non-perishable food when stored properly. I buy my Cannellini Beans in 10-pound bags online since I have difficulty finding them locally. A 10-pound bag of organic beans costs about $40. When I figure that one pot of Brothy Beans uses 1 pound of beans and will provide 2-3 meals for us, that equates to less than $2 or less per meal. Hard to beat!

Overhead shot of Brothy Beans in a white bowl with a spoon.

Different Types of White Beans

Let’s go in order of size, starting with the smallest.

Navy Beans

So-called because they were a food staple of the US Navy at the beginning of the 20th century, Navy Beans are also commonly called Pea Beans. These small beans cook up quickly, absorb the flavors of the foods they are cooked with, and are a hefty source of fiber.

Great Northern Beans

These medium-sized, thin-skinned white beans are known to be mild and nutty flavored. They hold their shape better than Navy Beans, making them good for soups. They are great in soups and stews and tend to take on the flavor of the foods they are cooked with.

Cannellini Beans

This larger, flatter white bean, also called White Kidney Bean, is my go-to white bean. It is a staple in Southern Italy, featured in dishes like Pasta e Fagioli. This bean has a creamy texture and nutty flavor and is more apt to be the focus of a dish.

Baby Lima Beans

These beans are a variety of the not-typically white Lima beans. They are often called Butter Beans for their rich, buttery flavor and starchy texture.

Hands holding a bowl of beans.

Do You Need to Soak Your Dried Beans?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?! I not only soak my beans, but I soak them in salted water to soften the skins, enabling them to cook more evenly and making them less likely to burst. That being said, I’ve recently read a great number of articles claiming that soaking is overrated. So, I will give that a try soon and report back my findings.

If you are already a no-soaker, then, by all means, do your no-soak thing with this recipe..and let me know what you think!

How Long Do Dried Beans Last?

Dried beans do lose flavor and ‘cookability’ after a certain amount of time. If you’ve ever cooked beans and they wouldn’t soften up, most likely you had some old beans, my friend. It seems the window for using beans after they have been dried is 2-3 years.

Should You Cook This Brothy Beans Recipe on the Stove-Top or in the Oven?

There is no dispute here…the oven creates, in essence, a sub-simmer that cooks the beans more evenly. The stovetop requires stirring, which can break the beans and, even then, can’t create the evenly distributed heat that the oven does. And since this Brothy Beans Recipe requires only 1 1/2 hours (after soaking) in the oven, they are hardly worth putting in a slow cooker for up to 4 hours. The Cannellini beans are large; other smaller types of white beans will cook faster.

Side view of white beans in a bowl, with a slice of toasted bread.

How Do You Know When Your Brothy Beans Are Ready?

I’ve referred to the Tamar Adler book, An Everlasting Meal, before. It’s one of those books I like to re-read from time to time for inspiration. Here’s her guidance on testing the doneness of beans:

Beans are done when they are velvety to their absolute middles.  You should feel, as soon as you taste one, as though you want to eat another.  The whole pot is only ready when five beans meet that description.  If one doesn’t, let the beans keep cooking…

Tamar Adler

Can You Freeze Your Leftover Beans?

Abso-posi-lutley! We regularly do, and they heat back up perfectly. Check out these Prepworks 1-cup Freezer Pods. I have them in several different sizes and use them frequently. We have a small freezer situation and these freezer pods help me maximize my space.

Where Do You Find Parmesan Cheese Rinds?

Like any other aged cheese, parmesan develops a hard rind on the side exposed to the air. While a little tough to eat, parmesan cheese rinds are lovely to add to soups, sauces, and…brothy beans! Ask at your grocer’s cheese counter or a specialty cheese shop. My grocery doesn’t always have them, so I keep them on my list to look every so often.

Brothy Beans Recipe

Brothy Beans Recipe

Yield: 6-8 servings
Soak Time: 10 hours
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 11 hours 40 minutes

This easy-to-make Brothy Beans Recipe is in regular rotation at our home. Large White Beans (Cannellini Beans) are cooked in the oven until they are tender, flavorful, and brothy. Suggested variations to this original recipe are included.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried white beans, I like Cannellini. For best luck, make sure your beans are not too old, preferably no more than 2-3 years old.
  • Fresh water, broth or stock
  • 6-8 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • A sprig of rosemary, thyme or sage or a few bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese rind (optional, but recommended)
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh herbs to top before seasoning, like parsley and/or basil.
  • See below for a list of optional additions/variations and toppings.

Instructions

  1. Sort and rinse beans.
  2. Place the beans in a glass or non-reactive metal bowl and add 2 tablespoons of salt and 4 quarts of room temperature water. Stir well to dissolve the salt and let soak for 10-24 hours at room temperature. Feel free to cover the bowl if you like.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°
  4. Drain beans and place in a heavy dutch oven or other heavy, lidded oven-friendly pot. Don't use cast-iron as your broth will be gray.
  5. Add fresh water. I typically add water so that there are 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water above the beans, but it is up to you just how 'brothy' you want them. Add the peeled garlic, parmesan rind, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, herbs, and a glug of olive oil. Also, this is when you would add other additions. See below for some suggestions.
  6. Place the pot on the stove and bring it to almost a boil, uncovered. You will see small bubbles starting to form, but don't bring to a boil.
  7. Once you start seeing some small bubbles, put the lid on the pot and transfer it to the oven.
  8. Bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, checking your beans at the 1 hour 15 minutes mark. Grab a spoon and pull 5-6 beans from the pot. If they are all tender, then you are done. If not, continue to cook and check in 15-20 minute increments.
  9. Once finished, check your broth and beans again and adjust seasonings.
  10. Mash the garlic cloves against the side of the pot and mix it well.
  11. Drizzle with fresh herbs and more olive oil.
  12. The beans serve as a great base for other toppings. Some suggestions are below.
  13. Toasted bread is delightful when served alongside your brothy beans.

Notes

Variations On A Theme

One of the reasons I love this Brothy Beans Recipe so much is that it is endlessly versatile! Here are some fabulous additions you can make to the pot:

  • Any kind of woody herb; think Rosemary, Bay Leaves, Thyme, or Sage
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • A grind of Nutmeg
  • Chopped Bacon, Salt Pork, Pork Jowl or Hock
  • Chopped Onions or Shallots
  • Use any vegetable or meat broth instead of water
  • I've added fresh tomatoes that needed to be used up.

After your Brothy Beans have cooked, consider topping them with:

  • A generous glug of good quality olive oil (pretty much mandatory!)
  • A dash of lemon juice, sherry, or balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped fresh kale, spinach, basil, parsley, or arugula.
  • Roasted Tomatoes (our favorite) or other roasted vegetables
  • Sauteed kale or swiss chard
  • Grated parmesan or feta


These Brothy Beans freeze well! I freeze them in individual servings, like these.

Did you make this recipe?

It would be great if you could take a minute and leave a comment below, as well as how many stars you think it deserves. Help other readers by asking any questions you have or sharing any modifications to the recipe. I'd love to hear how you served it! If you are on Instagram, then tag @nourishandnestle on Instagram and hashtag it #nourishandnestle! Many Thanks

Variations On A Theme

One of the reasons I love this Brothy Beans Recipe so much is that it is endlessly versatile!

Here are some fabulous additions/variations you can make to the pot:

  • Another type of white bean. Bear in mind the smaller beans will most likely cook quicker.
  • You decide just how ‘brothy’ you want your beans…I like broth.
  • Any kind of woody herb; think Rosemary, Bay Leaves, Thyme, or Sage
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • A grind of Nutmeg
  • Chopped Bacon, Salt Pork, Pork Jowl or Hock
  • Chopped Onions or Shallots
  • Use any vegetable or meat broth
  • I’ve added fresh tomatoes that needed to be used up.

After your Brothy Beans have cooked, consider topping them with:

  • A generous glug of good quality olive oil (pretty much mandatory!)
  • A dash of lemon juice, sherry or balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped fresh kale, spinach, basil, parsley or arugula.
  • Roasted Tomatoes (our favorite) or other roasted vegetables
  • Sauteed kale or swiss chard
  • Grated parmesan or feta

Bookmark this page or pin the following image to refer back to this Brothy Beans Recipe in the future.

Hands holding a bowl of brothy beans.

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4 Comments

  1. Jen

    September 20, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Hi, please advise,have you found plain water is best or chicken broth /water mix for liquid?My husband is southern, he loves cooked beans with fresh from oven cornbread.
    Thank you for a great recipe and blog😊.

    Reply
    • lynn

      September 20, 2021 at 11:02 am

      Hi Jen, I’ve done it both ways…and honestly, I haven’t noticed a huge difference in flavor. The key is the garlic. And the herbs. And truthfully, I think a rind of parmesan imparts more flavor than the broth does.

      Hope this helps. Let me know what you do and if you love it as much as we do!\

      Hugs,

      Lynn

      Reply
  2. dulke

    September 20, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    I agree, I think water actually tastes best. Parmesan rind adds a lot of flavor to the broth, so does the garlic – I use more, and really so does the olive oil. I always include a bay leaf, it adds a subtle flavor.

    Reply
    • lynn

      September 21, 2021 at 2:17 pm

      Isn’t that funny? I thought that stock would give it a heartier flavor, but that’s not necessarily the case. Sounds like we use the same recipe…and more garlic is always better…how many cloves to you use?

      Reply

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