Vegetarian, vegan, & gluten free options
Among many other things, 2020 was a year of the pantry.
In March, my husband and I moved into our first home. What began as a mix of accomplishment, relief, and excitement was quickly tempered by the dread of a looming pandemic. Our first week in our house was spent trying to set up a home office amid the boxes, terrifying trips to the grocery store trying to find basic essentials on barren shelves, turning my face away from others as I tried to find anything to stock up my brand new house that had nothing.
Like my grandparents before me, I know this year will impact the rest of my life like the World Wars did theirs. In hard times, those pantry staples that gather dust while we reach for snazzier food always come back to save us, though. If nothing else, this year has taught me the value of our pantry and being able to turn basics into something delicious. With this recipe, I’m championing one in particular: great Northern white beans.
With things you undoubtedly already have on hand, you can make a cozy, warm, nourishing recipe that is easily doubled, halved, and personalized for your family. Don’t like rosemary? Don’t add it! Want a vegan version? Skip the parm and egg! Truly, there is so much about this recipe that you can change based on you, your fam, what you have around, or the ding dang weather for all I care – you’re driving this ship! I’m including a super quick Instant Pot version or a traditional stovetop version. The process is a bit different, but the result is the same: an amazing, affordable, comforting meal that we all can appreciate.
Let’s get down to it, shall we?
- 15 prep minutes
- IP (Instant Pot): about 45 minutes
- ST (Stove Top): 8 or 1 hours to soak, then 1.5 hours to cook
- 1 lb. of dried great Northern beans
- 2 small carrots
- 1-2 stalks of celery
- 1/2 or small yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 7 cups of stock (any type, your choice)
- 1 tbsp dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary or 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- Optional add-ins: 1 parmesan rind and 1 egg
- Prep your beans.
- IP: dried beans are fine, so just check them and toss out any weirdos.
- ST: Toss out the weirdos, then soak your beans. Put them in a big pot, cover with a couple of inches of water, and soak overnight. You can alternatively bring them to a boil on the stove for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and cover, letting them soak for 1 hour.
- Whenever you’re ready to make the dish, prep your vegetables.
- Chop the onion, peel and chop the carrot, and chop the celery. Peel and either mince your garlic or just slice it into little thin slices like I do (if you like a little more garlicky punch, save yourself the trouble of getting it down fine). If you’re using fresh herbs, rinse and chop those up too.
- Pro Tip: You don’t have to chop up your aromatics if you think you don’t want to eat them at the end. It’s perfectly fine to just peel your carrot, onion, and garlic, trim down your celery, make a little herb bouquet for fresh ones, and toss them in there so you can remove them at the end.
- Now it’s time to cook! Add all your ingredients to either your ST pot or IP pot. If you are adding a parm rind, add it now (NOT the egg, though!!). Cover with your stock of choice.
- Pro Tip: I’m calling for 7 cups of stock here because I like the beans to be a little bit firmer and less brothy. You can add up to 8 cups of stock for this recipe depending on how loosey goosey you want your end result, so I would suggest following this the first time and then experimenting!
- Cook them beans.
- IP: Select Pressure Cook on high for 23 minutes. Once the beans have gone through that whole cycle and are on the “keep warm” part, let the pressure naturally release for 10-15 minutes, then manually release the pressure, being careful of the steam, until it’s all gone. The beans will soak up some more broth as they sit, so if they’re a bit too firm for you, pop the lid back on and hang out for a while. You can also cook these for 25 or even 27 minutes if you want a much softer bean.
- ST: Bring your beans and stock to a boil, then cut the heat down to a simmer and cover. If you have any foam on the top, skim that off and toss it. Cook the beans for 1.5 hours.
- Smell that glorious beany goodness! Remove anything you want out; if you used a parm rind, definitely remove that. Now decide if you want to add an egg. You can, while the beans are still ripping hot, beat one egg in a separate bowl, then temper it by whisking in some hot broth before adding it to your pot and stirring the egg all through. This adds some richness, but of course is optional. Finish the whole thing with a little glug of olive oil stirred right in.
I like to serve these straight up in a bowl with some grated parmesan, maybe a little parsley over the top, and buttered slices of sourdough for scooping. Like I’ve been saying this whole time, though, y’all can dress these up or down however you see fit that day. No matter which way you go, though, this is a hearty, cheap, delicious, wholesome meal that warms your heart right along with your home. How will you serve this? What will you do to make this your own? Let me know over on Instagram!