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2000s Recipes + Menus

Slow-Cooked Tomato and Herb White Beans

Serves 6 (side dish)
  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:4 hr (includes quick-soaking beans)
October 2009
These soupy beans resonate with the deep notes of tomato, garlic, and thyme. View more of our favorite recipes from this issue.

For Beans

  • 1 cup dried navy beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 (3-inch) thyme sprigs
  • 1 (3-inch) rosemary sprig
  • 1 (3-inch) sage sprig
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For tomato sauce

  • 3 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic (from 1 to 2 heads)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lb tomatoes, chopped (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato purée
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped thyme

Soak beans:

  • Soak beans overnight (8 to 12 hours) in water to cover by 2 inches or quick-soak (see cooks’ note, below), then drain.

Cook beans:

  • Bring beans, water (6 cups), carrot, onion, and herb sprigs to a simmer in a 4-qt heavy pot, then simmer, partially covered, until beans are al dente, about 45 minutes. Add kosher salt, then continue to simmer until beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more.

Make tomato sauce while beans simmer:

  • Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add oil and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 12 minutes. Add garlic, kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato purée, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

Finish beans:

  • Discard carrot and herb sprigs. Drain beans in a sieve set over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid, and return beans to pot. Add tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups bean-cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes.
cooks’ notes:
  • To quick-soak beans, cover with water by 2 inches in a 3-qt heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, then boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover, then soak 1 hour. Drain, discarding water.
  • Dish can be made 2 days ahead and chilled. Thin with water if necessary while reheating.
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