Attention, friends! I think this is my favorite soup recipe ever. So simple, so healthful and so tasty. I make loads of soups and stews, and I obviously try to make each of them amazing. But this one, it’s just so so sooooo good. Hard to believe too, because the ingredient list is short and straight-forward. The secret to this amazingly flavorful bean stew is two-fold. First, I add loads of fresh and fragrant chopped rosemary. Second, I add a parmesan rind to the simmering stew. These two simple ingredients take this stew to the next level, you truly won’t believe how much of a difference they make.
Now, I gave an option for using canned beans. However, I’ve learned that white beans in particular are so much better if they start as dry beans, because canned white beans can be a bit mushy. But for a super quick soup and for simplicity’s sake, canned beans are great. No matter which you use, dry or canned, the beans are what make this stew fiber- and protein-rich without any meat, and what make this soup hearty and filling.
Another health-supportive ingredient taking center stage in this recipe is the fresh rosemary. Rosemary is a member of the mint family and has a sweet & savory aroma. It provides iron, calcium & b-vitamins, as well as antioxidants. Rosemary has been linked to improved digestion, memory/concentration enhancement, slowing aging of the brain and also slowing the spread of cancer. Ok, I’m done gushing over plant foods (for now). Let’s get to the recipe, shall we?
White Bean & Rosemary Stew
Yield: 8 cups Servings: 4 Serving Size: 2 cups Active Time: 30 minutes
1 lb dry white beans, soaked (approx. 2.5 cups), see notes for more info & a method for using canned beans*
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
sea salt, fine grain
6 cloves garlic, peeled & minced (approx. 1/4 cup)
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves (approx. 2 robust sprigs)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake (increase to 1/4 tsp for a bit of spice)
4 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium variety preferred, chicken stock works too)
1 bay leaf
1 small parmesan rind, see notes below for more info & other options*
Accompaniments for Serving (optional)
grated parmesan cheese
cooked brown rice (or another whole grain of choice)
chopped bacon or mushroom “bacon”
Soak white beans with either a cold soak method (8 hours) or a hot soak method (1 hour).*
In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Sauté until onions are softened, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary and crushed red pepper flake. Sauté until garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add stock, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, bay leaf and parmesan rind (or another option, see notes below) to pot. Add soaked beans to pot, except if using canned beans, you’ll add them later. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Partially cover and simmer until beans are fully cooked (about 1 hour). Remove/discard bay leaf and parmesan rind. Note that if you’re using a piece of parm, instead of the rind, it might disappear into the soup and that’s fine.
Blend 2 cups of cooked beans (with a little bit of the broth) using an immersion blender or in a standing blender.* Return puréed beans/broth to pot and stir to combine. Season with sea salt to taste. Serve hot with with grated parmesan for topping, or any other desired accompaniments (mushroom “bacon”, minced chives, crispy shallots, etc).
*Canned Bean Option: If using canned beans, add stock, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, bay leaf and Parmesan rind (or another option, see notes below) to the pot of cooked onion mixture. Don’t add canned beans yet. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add 4 14-oz cans of drained/rinsed white beans to pot. Simmer for 15 minutes. Continue with blending step above.
*White Beans – I use great northern beans (aka white kidney beans), but any white bean variety, like canellini for example, will work
*Soaking beans – I use the quick soak (aka hot soak) method just about every time I cook with dry beans – soaking the beans overnight is too much planning and too much of a commitment for me – to quick/hot soak, add 1 lb of dry beans, 6-8 cups of water and 2 tbs fine grain sea salt to a pot – bring to boil – boil for 2 minutes – turn off heat – cover with lid – let beans soak for 1 hour – drain off the old water – ready to cook!
*Parm Rind Substitute & Vegan Variation – instead of a small parmesan rind, you can also just use small piece of parmesan cheese (the piece of parmesan should be approx. the equivalent of 3″ x .5″ x .5″) – Are you vegan or dairy-free? Leave out the parm completely and add a teaspoon or two of your favorite umami flavoring if desired (liquid aminos, white miso, etc.) – Don’t have a rind or solid parm? Stir in 2 tbs grated parm in the last 5 minutes of cooking
*Caution – if using a blender to purée to hot soup, note that pressure builds up if blending hot foods, which could cause a soup explosion – be very careful!