A classic pantry meal, brothy beans with potatoes and dill make for the easiest dinner or lunch recipe.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I love beans. And, it’s funny because I used to hate beans. Growing up, the only beans I’d eat were baked beans. When my mom would make ham and bean stew, I’d carefully pick out all the beans and eat just the ham and potatoes. My OkCupid profile tagline used to be “I don’t like beans.” That’s how adamant of a bean hater I was. I don’t know how or why my tastes changed, but I’m so glad they did!
Brothy beans, in particular, are one of my favorites. Several people ask me, “what are brothy beans?”. Usually, that question stems from wanting to figure out the difference between brothy beans and a regular old bean soup.
So what are they? It’s not a soup or a thick stew, but it falls somewhere in between. To me, the difference comes down to the amount of broth you serve with the beans. Bean soup or stew will fill up a whole bowl, which may be meaty, and hearty, with plenty of other secondary ingredients. Ham, carrots, chicken, and beef all come to mind. A bean stew will be a thick, stewy broth that sticks to your ribs.
On the other hand, brothy beans usually have a light broth that can be ladled into a shallow bowl. The broth is usually made with aromatics, like garlic or shallot. It’s not going to be a thick, stewy broth. The secondary ingredients can be more limited. Think, brothy beans and greens or brothy beans with herbs and bacon. The broth is usually light and thin but full of aromatic flavor.
Each person has their own interpretation of brothy beans, but to me, the broth should be light and easy to sop up with a thick slice of bread, and a shallow bowl should suffice for serving. If it’s hearty or the broth is thick and stewy and needs its own big soup bowl, that’s a bean soup.
What kind of beans should I use for brothy beans?
The best part of this pantry meal? You can use any dry or canned bean for your favorite brothy bean recipe. I reach for canned beans when I’m in a pinch for time. My personal favorites are:
When using dry beans, I recommend soaking and cooking the beans fully before making the recipe.
How to make brothy beans with potatoes:
This is such an easy pantry meal to make. You only need a handful of ingredients, including:
- Butter, plant-based or dairy butter
- Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and garlic
- Fresh dill and lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
If you don’t have fresh dill, use fresh parsley or dry dill instead.
To make it, start by browning the onion and potatoes. As you can see above, you want to develop a nice brown crust on the potatoes. Next, add the butter if you’d like a bit of richness. Then, add the garlic and crushed red pepper. From there, add the water and the canned beans.
Simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, and finish with the bright, aromatic herbs and lemon. If needed, add a bit more water if the liquid reduces too much.
Before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful bowl of brothy beans on the table. Make sure you serve it with a slice of toasted bread to sop up the broth!
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 pound potatoes, cut into medium-sized cubes
- 1–2 tablespoons butter, plant-based or dairy
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2–3 cups water
- 2 15- ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh dill or parsley; or use up to 1-2 teaspoons dry
- Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
- Toasted bread, for serving
Cook the onion and potatoes:
- Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until it softens.
- Add the cubed potatoes and season all over with salt and pepper. Cook for 6–8 minutes, occasionally turning to prevent the onions from burning. Continue cooking for another 3–5 minutes until the potatoes begin to brown.
- Melt the butter into the pot if using. Once melted and bubbly, add 1 teaspoon garlic powder and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook 1 minute.
Simmer the beans:
- Pour in 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the beans. Simmer for 15–20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Add the remaining 1 cup water if needed.
Finish the beans:
- Add lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper once more. Turn off the heat.
- Ladle the beans into shallow bowls. Garnish with lemon zest and more fresh dill or herbs. Serve with toast. Enjoy!