I find dried beans to be some of the most beautiful foods in the pantry. The red and white whorls of Good Mother Stallard, the creamy pale green of flageolet and Vallarta, and even the modestly speckled pinto bean all have unique, enticing beauty. Those individual characteristics fade in the cooking pot, but they are replaced by rich flavor. Here are 15 recipes (many vegetarian) that celebrate the humble dried bean — from polenta and borlotti with tomato sauce, to black bean soup, and from pasta with greens and beans, to the best baked beans you'll ever eat, we think you'll like at least one of these.
Soups, Stews, and Chili
While it's easy enough to toss a few cans of beans into a simmering pot of soup or stew, starting with dried beans means the comforting bowl has the most incredibly rich essence of those beans, as they are the foundation of that broth. Once the broth and beans are built, it's just a matter of tossing in a few other flavorful ingredients to make it a meal.
- White Bean & Bacon Soup
- Yotam Ottolenghi's Legume (Noodle) Soup
- Cuban Black Bean Soup
- Spanish Bean Soup (Potaje de Garbanzos)
- Alice Waters' Chickpea and Broccoli Rabe Soup
- White Bean & Chicken Sausage Stew
- One-Pot Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Stew)
- Black-Eyed Pea Stew
- Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Chili
Other Hearty Bean Dishes
Beyond soups and stews, dried means can be prepared in a number of easy ways to create a satisfying meal. The can be braised with chicken and aromatics, simmer in tomato sauce, and even tossed in the pressure cooker or slow cooker.