It's a rainy day here in NYC, and I'm curled up under the covers writing to you. This recipe for brothy beans is the perfect cure to gray skies. Basically, we take canned beans from just good to WOWZA great. How, you ask? By simmering them in a lil' tub of brown butter, chicken broth, and one more secret ingredient that's an umami flavor bomb... Read on for the full recipe and details!
What kind of beans should I use?
You can use any beans, but I recommend white beans, which pair well with the brown butter and Parmesan. Cannellini or butter beans are ideal, and make sure you buy the best quality beans you can find!
Why do you add the bean liquid? Aren't you supposed to drain that off?
The bean liquid allows the mixture to thicken quickly, and has tons of flavor! It's great to use when you're adding beans to other liquid (in this case, chicken stock.)
Why rosemary? What if I don't like it?
Rosemary pairs well with these classic Italian flavors, but if you don't like it, no sweat. Just leave it out or swap for another fresh herb of your choice. Sage would be lovely here as well.
How and why do I add brown butter?
When you're making a recipe like this one, with such limited ingredients, you want to make sure that you're extracting as much flavor as possible from each element. Butter can be much deeper in flavor if you let it brown/caramelize for a few minutes. It becomes nutty and super fragrant, and that carries through to the final product. To brown butter, you want to cook it in a dry pan (no water droplets) on medium heat for a few minutes, until you start to smell it and see it becomes golden. Once you see it browning, pull the butter off the heat immediately. It goes from brown to burnt very quickly if you're not careful.
Why do you add Parmesan rind to the brothy beans?
Parmesan rind is the secret soup ingredient to getting loads of flavor really fast. The rind is salty, funky, and umami-rich, and adding it to plain broth (and simmering) makes for an explosively rich broth.
Where do you find Parmesan rind?
Save Parmesan rinds from when you buy a hunk at the store (in the freezer for up to 3 months) or go up to your local cheese monger and see if you can buy some! Whole foods has them and so do many other stores. Don't replace parmesan with other rinds (except maybe Pecorino.)
Why don't you season the brothy beans with salt and pepper?
Between the chicken broth and the Parmesan rind, the mixture can get very salty, so I like to taste after cooking and then add more salt if needed. In the past, I haven't had to add much at all. As for the pepper, I find black pepper overpowering in this dish, and prefer to let the rosemary shine.Print
canned beans quickly get upgraded by being cooked in an umami-rich broth with parmesan, brown butter and fresh herbs
- 1 can of beans (preferably cannellini or butter beans, with their liquid)
- 3 large cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 8 oz chicken broth (low-sodium if store-bought)
- 2- inch piece of parmesan rind
- Bring a cast-iron pot or pan to a high heat. Add garlic + rosemary.
- Once you begin to smell the herbs, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Watch closely! As soon as you notice the butter browning, and becoming fragrant (it will smell nutty), pull of the heat.
- Add broth, beans (+ their liquid) and parmesan rind.
- Return to the heat (medium-high) and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Turn down the heat to medium-low once boiling. Cover and cook covered for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and finish cooking for the last 10 minutes on medium, uncovered.
- When serving, pluck out your parmesan rind (it’s not tasty) and be sure to have some crusty, craggly bread nearby for extreme dunking. Pour beans into individual bowls, with broth. Shave extra parmesan on top. Add freshly-cracked black pepper and salt if necessary*
*You’ll notice that I did not season with salt and pepper. This is because the broth + rind are very salty, so I prefer to season at the end after tasting. You may not even need salt!
- Category: Soups
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: soup, brothy beans, canned beans, parmesan rind, cannellini beans, butter beans, brown butter, umami broth
Want a different bowl of comfort to curl up with? Try my Tuscan Ribolita!