By Cat, June 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Includes: 1. White Beans, Baby Potatoes & Herbs; 2. Pasta e Fagioli (soup)
The first time I tried the White Beans with Baby Potatoes & Herbs, I kept thinking, “this sure reminds me of Pasta e Fagioli (pronounced “pasta fazool”), an Italian soup I used to enjoy at a restaurant near my office when I lived in Portland. So I provide instructions to modify the original recipe to make Pasta e Fagioli, as well, using pasta instead of potatoes.
There are three common types of white beans: white kidney (also called cannellini), great northern, and navy beans. You can use any of these in the recipe, but I recommend the cannellini if you make Pasta e Fagioli. Remember that cannellini, as kidney beans, should be boiled 10 minutes before simmering. See Cook Think.com (2) for a great discussion of the difference between these 3 common types of white beans.
The method is a bit fussy, in that you prepare three separate parts (beans, potatoes, and tomato & herb sauce), then combine them just before serving. Don’t cheat and combine them while cooking, as the flavor will lose significant impact. If you plan to have leftovers, reserve the 3 parts intended for leftovers in 3 separate containers. Warm beans and potatoes together, warm sauce separately, then combine when you serve.
White Beans with Baby Potatoes & Herbs
This recipe is adapted from the New Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas (1). Sometimes I make it without the potatoes, but tiny red potatoes have the most nutrient punch of any potato, as long as you leave the peel on. It is also excellent with a good mild sausage (I used bockwurst). This dish improves the next day and the next!
This dish resembles Pasta e Fagioli (pronounced “pasta fazool”) in flavor. See Variation for Pasta e Fagioli, below the original recipe.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- ½ pound white beans (Cannellini or Great Northern)
- warm filtered water
- lemon juice (1 Tbsp per quart of water)
Beans & Potatoes
- about 2 cups Chicken Stock or Broth, Vegetable Broth, or water
- 6 – 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 tsp crumbled dried sage
- ½ Tbsp olive oil
- Unrefined sea salt, to taste
- 1 lb very small red-skinned potatoes
- large bowl
- 3-quart saucier
- saucepan (for potatoes)
If you wish to include sausage, select a mild sausage in a casing (not spicy Italian sausage), about 8 oz (½ lb).
- 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 – 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 small bay leaf
- pinch dried oregano
- ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut in chunks (or canned chopped tomatoes)
- ½ cup filtered water
- ½ cup veggie broth or chicken stock
- Unrefined sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- cast iron skillet
- wooden spoon
- Cover beans with warm water. Stir in whey or lemon juice and leave in a warm place overnight (24 hours). The longer they soak, the shorter the cooking time. Check after a few hours and add more water as necessary.
- If you wish to sprout them, start that process at least 3 days before you want to cook this dish. See Beans & Other Legumes: Soaking & Sprouting for details.
- Drain beans, rinse and put in saucier along fresh water (or chicken stock) to cover by 2 inches. Boil for 10 minutes (very important, to ensure soft beans) and skim.
- Add peeled garlic cloves, sage and ½ Tbsp. olive oil. Simmer gently until beans are tender, 1 – 3 hours. Add more water as needed to keep beans covered.
- About 20 minutes before the beans are done, add about ¼ tsp of salt.
If you wish to include sausage, cut into 1″ – 2″ lengths, and add to beans and potatoes when you add the salt.
- Put potatoes in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, then salt the water and cook until potatoes are just tender, 10-15 minutes, depending on size. Drain and set aside.
- While beans are cooking, heat olive oil in cast iron skillet. Stir in minced garlic for a minute or two over medium heat. Add herbs and crushed red pepper.
- Continue stirring for 3-4 minutes, then add tomatoes, water and broth/stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add tomato-herb sauce to beans and their remaining broth in saucier. Add potatoes, and stir gently. Let everything heat through together, then serve
Assembly or Serving ideas
- Spoon beans into generous bowls, pouring a little of the herb-scented broth over each serving.
- Pass grated parmesan cheese. Toasted croutons made from stale rosemary focaccia can also be added
- Before serving, chop up some kale and add to the warm beans, allowing it to wilt and soften.
Variation: Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans Soup)
Follow the recipe above, with the following modifications:
- Use all white beans, or half white, half red kidney beans.
- Instead of 2 cups chicken stock, use at least 6 cups (stock, or stock diluted with water) when cooking the beans.
- Instead of the potatoes, cook about 4 oz. pasta (rigatoni, shell pasta, small bow-ties, etc) just short of al dente (it will cook more after adding to the soup), and stir into the soup when you stir in the tomato-herb sauce.
- (Optional) Chop some fresh spinach, chard or kale, and stir into the soup just before serving, until it wilts.
- Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
- New Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas
- Cook Think.com on the 3 common types of white bean: (cookthink.com/reference/988/Cannellini_beans_vs_Great_Northern_beans_vs_Navy_beans)