There are few things more comforting than a big pot of beans simmering on the stove. This recipe is perfectly adaptable — you can use any beans you've got. It's an ideal pantry recipe. Serve this with crusty bread and a big salad.
Technique tips: Different varieties of beans have different cook times, and you also have to factor in the age of the beans. Older, drier beans tend to take longer. One way to tell if your beans are done is to put some in a spoon and blow hard on them. When the skin wrinkles and splits, they're done. Also, if you don't have kitchen string, just throw the herbs into the pot. You can fish them out later.
Swap options: To make this vegan, skip the cheese and add an extra grated garlic clove at the end.
Rinse the beans, then cover them by 2 inches with tap water. Add enough salt to make the water taste like the sea (1 to 2 tablespoons usually). Let beans soak for 4-12 hours. If you don't have time, you can skip this step.2.
Drain beans and put them in a pot, electric pressure cooker or slow cooker. If cooking in a regular pot or slow cooker, add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. If using a pressure cooker, use less water, covering them 1 inch. Add oil, whole peeled garlic (save the grated garlic for later), carrot, celery, onion and the herb bouquet. Add enough salt to the cooking water to make it taste like the sea.3.
If using a regular pot, simmer the beans for anywhere to 30 minutes to 2-3 hours, depending on what variety you used, how old they were and whether or not you soaked them. Check on them periodically, adding more water if the level gets too low (as in, lower than the beans). For the pressure cooker, the timing is anywhere from 5 minutes at high pressure to 50 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. The slow cooker will take 3-6 hours on high.4.
Stir the grated garlic into the beans, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve the beans and some of their broth in bowls, garnished with more olive oil (be generous), herbs, Parmesan, flaky sea salt and chile flakes, if you like.