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When it comes to beans, people often feel like they need to be extra, paired with many ingredients, and fussed over—often feeling that beans have no flavor. However, when given just a bit of love (like in these brothy beans), the taste and texture of the beans are unmatched.


Cooking beans for me is a duel effort: cooked beans and the broth. We often overlook the flavor of beans and their broth because canned beans typically only contain a bit of sodium. But when cooking from dry, you can make something you could eat immediately.

Brothy Beans start with good broth

While beans have a lovely flavor, they can quickly soak up bonus flavor. As such, my best advice when making brothy beans is to think of it as a parallel process. You’re making a broth, and you’re cooking beans. We want a liquid that tastes delicious and beans that have soaked up the flavor. 

Because of this, you can play around with flavor. Add herbs, an assortment of vegetables, plenty of salt, and a glug of oil. However, save any acidic items to finish the dish. Beans consist primarily of salt-water-soluble proteins that may seize when in contact with acid. This reaction can cause tough, hard beans even after cooking for an ample amount of time.

Go the extra step

When making a broth, you may see instructions on precooking the alliums or vegetables before adding them to the pot. This extra step could include searing, broiling, grilling, or smoking. Each method alters the flavors of the alliums and vegetables, ultimately yielding a more complex broth. 


Searing, broiling, or grilling triggers the Maillard reaction, causing the sugars and proteins within any given item to react. When I make broths, this typically includes onions, leeks, garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms, corn, and/or tomatoes. 

By giving these items a little char, you can create layers of more complex flavor in your broth, which ultimately means more flavor in your beans. 


Smoking vegetables and alliums ahead of time results in a smoky flavor to the broth.

Low and Slow

Finally, don’t rush things! The broth and the beans benefit from low and slow cooking time. The extra time allows the broth flavor to develop. As for the beans, the extra time and lower temperature help even the more tender beans hold their shape. 

A close-up image of brothy beans accompanied by roasted tomatoes and a slice of bread.


One of the charming bits of this recipe is that you can make it with any bean. However, the type of bean you choose has a visual and sensory impact on the final dish. I may be the only person who cares, but both are worthy of a note! 

Small for a nourishing bowl

What small beans lack in size, they make up for overall impact. Small beans, such as a tiny navy or alubia blanca bean, may seem diminutive, but that’s their charm. Given that everything melds together, I think the smaller beans convey a sense of nourishment. 

Plus, using the smaller beans means distributing flavors easier as these beans are less dense. 

Medium for easy brothy beans

I usually have some medium everyday beans cooked on hand. You can make a modified version of this dish by using what you may already have on hand, like a pinto or chickpea. Start the broth ahead of time to develop the flavor, then add the beans and cook over low. 

Of course, other medium beans are big on flavor, making them perfect for a meal like this. My favorites are Bayo beans (from Primary Beans) or Buckeye beans (from Rancho Gordo). 

Large for statement meals

Finally, if you want to make this meal and have it be a statement, I highly recommend large beans! I like to use Gigante or Royal Corona for a job like this. These beans take up space and make you feel like you’re eating something filling. 


I suggest a simple serving companion of sliced toast; however, these beans serve as an excellent base upon which you can expand. 

Add a grilled cheese or cheese toast

I like to use these brothy beans as a soup-like meal, paired with grilled cheese for dipping. I also adore this cheese toast with caramelized onion and a bit of mustard–both making good companions for these beans. 


While the base recipe has roasted tomatoes, you can also add to it. I like to stir in shredded spinach, kale, or chard towards the end of cooking. You can also give the meal a bit of freshness by topping with some lightly dressed greens–arugula with a bit of lemon and olive oil is perfect. 

Something Crunchy

This is probably one of many recipes to which I suggest adding something fried as a finish—I love the crunch! Fry leftover grains for bits of crispy texture pops, or finish with a flurry of fried shallots or garlic. The fried alliums add a nice bit of crunch and flavor. 


These brothy beans make a great companion to cooked grains. I prefer to have a side of grains that I can eat along with the beans. You can also bulk up the recipe and add the grains right in with the beans and broth. 


To change the flavor, use one of the variations with the roasted tomatoes. I adore using chile paste or ground chile in place of the black pepper to add a bit of heat to the beans. You can also load up on herbs, like dill or fresh basil.

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2 large servings
An easy lunch featuring brothy beans dressed up with a bit of shallot, miso, and a roasted tomato component that helps this meal come together fast. 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Soaking Time: 8 hours
  • 1 cup (190 g) dried navy beans
  • 3 cups (720 ml) cool water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (peeled and cut into wedges)
  • 5-6 garlic cloves (smashed and peeled)
  • 1-2 tablespoons (32 g) white miso
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar
For Finishing
  1. To prep the beans: Roughly 8 hours before you plan to cook them, place them in a jar with the cool water and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Cover and let them rest at room temperature. You can also prep the tomatoes the night before, as they take a little more time to cook!
  2. To cook the beans: Heat a medium or large pot over medium-high heat with the ¼ cup of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic have browned, flipping as needed to get all sides.
  3. Drain, but do not rinse your beans, then add them to the pot. Cover with 1” of water. Bring to a boiler, reduce to a low simmer, and cook until the beans are tender but not falling apart, 20-25 minutes.
  4. If you have a lot of liquid left, use a slotted spoon to remove the beans, bring the broth to a boil, and cook until there is enough liquid just to cover the beans. Add the beans back in and continue as usual. You can leave the added broth and have a bowl of extra brothy beans- it’s up to you!
  5. Turn off the heat once you have tender beans and flavorful broth. Place 1 tablespoon of miso in a ladle and skim a bit of broth into the ladle. Using a spoon, stir the miso and broth together to loosen the miso–this technique helps the miso incorporate a bit easier.
  6. Dip the ladle into the pot of beans, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and stir to distribute evenly. Taste and add more miso, vinegar, or a pinch of kosher salt to find a balance you enjoy.
  7. To finish the beans: Divide them into 3-4 bowls. Swirl in enough of the roasted tomatoes to satisfy your taste buds, and drizzle with more olive oil if desired. Finish with a few cracks of black pepper before serving.
Bean Variety: Use whatever bean (or lentil!) is calling your name at the moment, and adjust the liquid as needed to keep the beans brothy. 
Bean Cooking Additions: I typically keep the broth simple, relying on alliums to do the heavy lifting. However, you can play more! Try adding large pieces of carrots, mushrooms, or woody herbs at the beginning of cooking or ginger, whole spices (in a little satchel so they don’t get lost), or chiles towards the end of cooking. 
For the tomatoes: This is a component I always have on hand during the summer.
Using precooked or canned beans: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add 2-3 minced garlic cloves, 3 cups of cooked beans, and enough broth to cover. If you’re using canned beans, I recommend draining the liquid and using vegetable broth instead of the bean liquid to have more flavor-building capabilities. Bring the mixture to a boil, cook until the broth thickens slightly, and finish the recipe as written.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time :40 minutes
Soaking Time :8 hours

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  1. Made this tonight and it was really good. I used homemade navy beans that I cooked the day before, as I did the roasted tomatoes so it came together quickly for dinner.
    I used less miso- I quadrupled the recipe so I used 3T instead of 4- it would've been too salty with the full amount. So I suggest starting with a lesser amount of miso and doing it to taste.
    Thanks for the great recipe!

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Welcome to my little internet nook. On this site you'll find over a thousand vegetarian recipes, pantry knowledge, and more. I'm ever obsessed with food from gardening, cooking, and preserving. I hope you'll find endless inspiration on these pages and visit often. 

Virtual hugs, Erin (aka: e.l.l.a.)

a few good grain recipes

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