There’s lots of talk these days about bone broth, but I’d like to talk about bean broth, and specifically, bean broth with Rancho Gordo beans. Steve Sando, the passionate person behind Rancho Gordo, sells top quality beans of dozens of different varieties, but among my personal favorites are the fat, meaty Royal Coronas, pictured dry here in La Vie Rustic’s Rectangle Gratin dish, large Limas, and of course, the Cassoulet bean, known in France as Tarbais.
I cook all these beans in the simplest way, without soaking. I cover the beans by about 3 inches of water, add 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried per half pound of beans and bring to a boil over high heat. I reduce the heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes or so, then add about a teaspoon of gros sel, or coarse grey sea salt.
Simmer until done, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours or so. If I need to, I add a little water if it seems to getting too low. I taste the broth. I may add a little more salt, plus some pepper until it hits that perfect point of richness and complex flavor.
And, the broth of each variety of bean reflects the bean’s individual character.
If I’m cooking beans, for say, a bean salad with parsley, lemon, and olive oil, I’ll leave a few beans in the broth, and have that for soup the next day, maybe with some garlic rubbed croutons and some bits of prosciutto stirred in.
On Easter, I baked a fresh ham, and then, a day or two later, cooked some Royal Coronas and added shreds of that bourbon glazed ham to make an unctuous soup.
Cooking beans with a little celery, carrots, adds another dimension to the resulting bean broth, as do additional herbs. Sometimes I add a sprinkle of Herbes de Provence, which includes the bean friendly herb, winter savory.
Freshly cooked dried beans and their broth are an essential component for real deal vegetable soup or stew recipes that call for ‘X cups of cooked beans and their broth’.
Here is the link to the Rancho Gordo website, where you can read all about beans, buy them, peruse recipes, and read Steve Sando’s pithy prose.
As for the gorgeous rectangle gratin dish to serve the beans in, the fresh or dried bay leaves, and the Herbes de Provence, you can buy those right here at La Vie Rustic.
Combining the dish with some herbs or bay leaves, plus beans would make a special gift for anyone who loves pretty things, good food, and cooking.