Today, we're making Brothy Beans with Shiitake Garlic Broth.
Brothy Beans With Shiitake Garlic Broth
So, what are brothy beans? I don't know if there's a formal definition, but here's how I can best describe them. It's not quite soup, but it's very very close. There's a little less liquid than you'd have in a standard bowl of soup. But, the most important part is creating a super flavorful broth for the beans to swim in. Because beans are such a blank canvas, you can really make the broth reflect any kind of flavor profile you want. And though this dish is very simple and comes together using really inexpensive ingredients, it's one of those recipes that requires some time and patience.
Our brothy beans start with dried beans. This is one of the tricks to the dish. The beans need to soak for a few hours (or even up to overnight) to start to rehydrate the beans. Then, they'll stew in their flavorful broth and absorb the flavors of the bath we create for them while they finish cooking and softening up. If you really, really wanted to, you could use canned beans. But, you're missing out on the opportunity to infuse the beans with all that flavor while they cook.
To build our broth, we're going to start with water. Yup, water. You are not going to believe how much flavor we can infuse into water by using a handful of super aromatic ingredients! While our beans soak, we're also going to soak some dried shiitake mushrooms in a few cups of boiling water. I love dried shiitake mushrooms, because they pack a TON of flavor, and you can usually get them for pretty cheap (under $5) at an Asian market. They come in a big bag, and you can store the dried shiitakes in the freezer to keep them fresh. Then, you can pull them out as you need them and use them whenever you want! And, the deep golden mushroomy broth that they make is one of my absolute favorites!
Once the beans and mushrooms have finished soaking, we're going to combine them both into one pot. Then, we'll add some fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, bay leaves, onion, garlic, a parmesan rind, and a little drizzle of olive oil for richness. Whenever I finish a wedge of parmesan, I save the rind and store it in the fridge. It's a great secret for adding richness to a sauce that gets simmered. If you don't keep parm rinds in your freezer too, just buy a wedge, lop off the end for our broth, and use the cheese for everything!
We're going to let everything simmer together for as long as it takes the beans to get to the texture you prefer. The length of time you pre-soaked the beans will impact the cook time. Your desired texture will impact the cook time. So after we reach a certain point, it's up to you to decide when to pull this off the stove. And when that time comes, we're going to fish out all of our aromatics so that we're left with just broth and beans.
Now, these luscious, soupy beans are perfect as is. But to bump of the protein level AND bump up the unctuous mouthfeel of these beans, we're going to top the bowl with a gooey poached egg and a light sprinkle of aleppo pepper. When the rich yolk from the egg mixes with that super flavorful broth, the whole thing becomes such a luxurious bite. It feels like you're eating a million bucks when you really only spent less than $10 for the whole pot.
If you think you need meat and potatoes to have comfort food, you are wrong. When you have creamy, comforting beans, an herbaceous umami filled broth, and a creamy dreamy egg; Meatless Monday never looked so good.
I feel like I say that with every Meatless Monday meal. But, it gets more and more true every week!
Ok, everyone. I have a feeling this is not the last you'll see of brothy beans. Maybe we'll do a tomatoey based broth next. What do you think?
I hope you enjoy. And, let's eat!
Brothy Beans With Shiitake Garlic Broth
- 5 cups water, divided
- 8 oz dry white beans (I used Great Northern Beans), rinsed
- 10 (about .5 oz) dried shitake mushrooms
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 parmesan rind (from an 8 oz wedge)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
- 4 poached eggs
- minced fresh chives and ground aleppo pepper, for garnish
- Soak the beans: Place the dried beans in a large pot, and cover with 3 cups of water. Water level should be about an inch above the beans, so add a little more water, if necessary. Allow the beans to soak at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Meanwhile, start the Shiitake Broth: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, and add dried shiitake mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to soak for the same amount of time that you soak the beans.
- Simmer the beans: Once the beans have soaked, add shiitakes and their broth to the pot with the beans along with the onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, parmesan rind, olive oil, ½ tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Bring the mix to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium low and cover. Simmer covered for 45 minutes- 2 hrs based on your preference of bean texture. Remove from heat. Remove the mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and parmesan from the broth. Taste for seasoning, and add a pinch of salt and pepper, if desired.
- To serve: Ladle the beans with their broth into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with a poached egg, minced chives, and a pinch of aleppo pepper. Enjoy!
- To poach an egg, bring a small pot of water with 1 cap full (about a tsp) of white vinegar to a light simmer over high heat. Break egg in to a small ramekin, being careful not to crack the yolk. As soon as the water starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium high heat. Add a pinch of salt to the water. Carefully, drop the egg in to the water, and set the timer for 3 minutes. When the time is up, remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon, and blot with a paper towel to dry. Season the egg with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Whenever I finish a wedge of parmesan, I wrap the rind in some plastic wrap, throw it in a freezer safe bag, and pop it in the freezer. If you don't have a parmesan rind on hand, you can just buy a new wedge, and chop off the rind.
- I like to buy a big bag of dried shiitake mushrooms from the Asian market (for pretty cheap) and store them in the freezer. Then, they stay fresh, and I always have them on hand.
- You could use canned beans for this recipe if you don't want to soak dried beans, but you're going to lose the benefit of the brothy flavors soaking into the beans as they cook for the first time.
- The cook time on the beans will depend on a few variables including how long you soaked your beans and what texture you prefer on the the beans. I soaked my beans for about 6 hours, like my beans al dente, and simmered my beans for about an hour. Just taste test a bean as you go to determine if you think they're ready.