Makes 5 to 8 servings or 5½ to 8 cups

We learn that “Tuscans are bean eaters” in Pino Luongo’s cookbook, A Tuscan in the Kitchen (1988). Look for white beans that are grown organically in the US or include heirloom white beans from Rancho Gordo or Community Grains.

2 cups white beans (cannellini [Italian white kidney beans], navy, lima, great northern)
Water or mild-tasting vegetable broth (6 cups to soak, 4 cups to pressure-cook beans or 6 cups to pot cook them)
2 tablespoons high-heat olive oil blend (equal parts EVOO and a Spectrum brand high-heat oil)
2 onions, diced
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
3-inch piece kombu sea vegetable
2 large bay leaves
1½ teaspoons dried Italian herbs
3 tablespoons white miso or chickpea miso
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
Freshly-ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil, minced
Thickener (optional): 2 tablespoons kuzu root starch or arrowroot powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons cool water
Garnishes (optional): Fresh sprigs basil with heart-shaped carrot cutouts (cut a thick carrot in 8 thin slices, boil in water to cover for 5 minutes, and cut shapes with cutters)

1. Sort through beans for stones by spreading them on a white plate. Rinse beans in water to cover. Drain, and transfer to pot or pressure cooker with measured amount of soak water. Allow to soak 8 hours (all day or overnight) or until bubbles form, up to 24 hours. Drain beans.

2. In the same pot or pressure cooker, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic until barely tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans with fresh water. Bring to boil and slow-boil uncovered for 5 minutes to allow initial gas to escape in the form of froth or steam. Scrape off froth with a skimmer/flat strainer. Add kombu and bay leaf to pot and cover to bring to boil or pressure, then turn heat low to cook until beans are tender, for ½ to 1 hour in pressure cooker (less for most beans, more for cannellini beans), up to 4½ hours in a pot. For pot cooking, add water as needed to cover beans, up to 4½ cups more water.

3. Gently remove kombu. Broth should be level with beans. If there’s too much broth, set aside 1 cup. (Keep to add the next day, if needed. The exception is cannellini beans when you may need to add some water.) With a wire whisk or in a food processor or blender, purée halfway cooked beans and vegetables with dry herbs, miso, salt, and pepper. Add fresh basil and heat through to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste and amount of liquid to consistency desired. Or thicken texture by adding dissolved thickener and cooking until gentle bubbling resumes, whisking as you go. Garnish to serve.

For 8 servings, per serving:
Calories: 194    Protein: 9gm    Fat: 4gm    Saturated Fat: 1gm    Carbohydrates: 34gm    Fiber:  9gm    Cholesterol: 0    Sodium: 230mg
Calories from Protein: 18%      Calories from Fats: 17%     Calories from Carbohydrates: 64%