Rosemary White Bean Soup Starter

February 21, 2015

six finished jars

Earlier in the week, I promised a post about how to make pressure canned white beans and so here we are. The canning technique is the same as you use for unflavored beans, but by adding a rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper, these beans can either add flavor to a large pot of soup (sausage, kale and white bean, perhaps?) or with just a couple additions, can become the backbone of a simple lunchtime meal.

5 pounds of white beans

When I make these beans, I only fill the jars halfway, so that in addition to getting flavorful beans, I also get a concentrated liquid that can become part of the broth of the soup. If you like that idea, you’ll need approximately 2 1/2 pounds of white beans (I used Great Northern beans here, but you can also use navy or cannellini) to make a canner of load of seven quarts. If you want jars that have more beans and less liquid, you’ll need an additional pound or so.

soaked and drained beans

The day before you want to can, pour the beans into a large stock pot and cover them with at least six inches of water (I made a double batch and filled a 12 quart pot). Let them soak overnight. An hour or so before you want to can, drain the beans of the soaking water and then fill the pot up with fresh, filtered water.

Put the pot on the stove and begin bringing it to a boil. At this point, I also fill and heat my tea kettle, so that I ensure that I will have enough hot water to get to the end of the batch.

quarts in pressure canner

While the beans come to a boil, prep your pressure canner. I use a 16 quart Presto, which holds seven quart jars. Put clean jars in the canner. Fill them up with water so that they don’t float and put about three inches of water into the pot. Put the lid on, but don’t lock it into place and bring the pot to a boil so that the jars are hot when it’s time to fill them.

soup starter additions

As the beans and the canner come to temperature, prepare your flavorings. For these beans, I use a small sprig of fresh rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper (I use a mortar and pestle to roughly crush the peppercorns), a heaping teaspoon of kosher salt, and a big garlic clove for every jar.

in the jar

Once the beans (as the beans boil, they will produce some foam. Just skim this off and discard) and the canner are boiling, it’s time to start building the jars. Remove one jar from the canner and pour the water it contains out into the skin (you don’t want this water in the canner, because you only need about three inches to safely pressure can). Put the rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper into the bottom of the drained jar.

scant 2 cups of beans

Scoop out a scant two cups of the hot beans. I have found that the best way to do this is to use a slotted spoon to portion the beans into a measuring cup. We’ll go back for the liquid in just a minute.

beans in the jar

Funnel the beans into the jar. When I make these beans as a soup starter, I don’t want the jar to be more than half full of beans, because again, I want to capture some bean broth.

beans and broth

Return to your stock pot of beans and dip the measuring cup in for the bean liquid. You’ll need 3 to 3 1/2 cups of liquid for each jar. You want to fill to the base of the neck, so that you have about an inch of headspace. It’s far more than you leave when you’re working with water bath canning, but trust me, all will be well. If you start to run low on bean liquid, top off the pot with the hot water from your kettle.

in the pressure canner

Once the jar is full, stir the contents with a wooden or plastic chopstick to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rim, apply a new lid and a ring (it doesn’t need to be new). Remember that the pressure inside the canner is such that it can often shake loose the ring, so tighten it down more aggressively than you would if you were canning in a boiling water bath.

at pressure

Once all the jars are full, put the lid on the pressure canner and lock it into place. Bring the pot to a boil and let it vent for approximately 15 minutes. You do this by running the pot without the pressure regulator in place. That’s the little black and metal hat that sits atop the vent shaft.

The reason for this is that a canner that has been properly relieved of its oxygen through venting can reach a higher temperature than one that is full of oxygen. The higher the temperature, the more effectively the canner will kill any botulism spores present.

three finished jars

Once the canner is properly vented, apply the pressure regulator and bring up to pressure. If you live at 1,000 feet elevation or below (as I do), you bring the pot up to 11 pounds of pressure. If you live at higher elevations, you need to increase your pressure (find those exact elevation adjustments here).

Once the canner reaches the appropriate pressure, start your timer. Because we’re canning quarts, these beans need to process for 90 minutes (if you opt for pints, they need 75 minutes). Make sure to check the pressure gauge often to ensure that you’re at the proper pressure levels. If your pressure drops below the required level, you have to bring the pot back up to pressure and restart your timer.

finished beans close

When your time is up, turn the heat off underneath the pot and let it cool. Don’t try to rush the cooling process because that can do damage to the finished product. Once the pot has depressurized, you can remove the lid and place the jars on a folded kitchen towel to continue to cool and seal.

My favorite way to turn these beans into a basic lunchtime soup is this. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil, salt it moderately, and cook a handful of small pasta (like ditalini or orzo) in it until just al dente. Pour the beans and liquid into another saucepan and using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to the beans. The ladle in the pasta water until you have a nice, broth. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. If you want a little green vegetable, stir in some ribboned baby spinach at the very end of cooking.

To serve, ladle the soup out into bowls. Top with a drizzle of tasty olive oil and a little grated Parmesan. It is an easy, filling, healthy, and cheap!

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33 thoughts on "Rosemary White Bean Soup Starter"

  • I just canned four pints of Navy Beans yesterday, using your basic method from the post above re beans in the Weck jars. Now I am looking forward to doing some qts with the rosemary, garlic, S&P as you outlined. This is my new project – I did cranberry beans and black also. Thanks so much.

  • This looks delicious. I am wondering if you have made this before and how it tastes several months later. In my experience, some herbs have turned my soup bitter after being in the jar for a few months. As a result, I keep my recipes simple and then enhance them with fresh herbs when I re-heat them.

  • Lovely! The addition of rosemary sounds just yummy.

    We usually can plain beans, no salt, nothing but the beans and water, to increase the possibilities of how to use them. Like mashing them a bit while frying in butter/olive oil as a side for eggs instead of potatoes. We do like to add onion to some jars of pintos. We experimented this year with adding a bit of dehydrated onion, and it was delicious.

    Would add that when doing a more completely filled jar, we use wide mouthed pints. Much easier to get the beans from the jars. (Picking them out one at a time was funny the first time, not so much after that!)

  • As a novice canner I’d like to know if you have to can beans in a pressure canner. Could you do them in a regular canner? Thanks for your help. Anne

    1. You have to use a pressure canner in order to safely can beans. Because they are low in acid, you need to preserve them in a pot that can reach at least 240 degrees F. There is no way to do that without applying pressure.

  • Marisa, my friend gave me a pressure cooker/canner that either applies 8 or 15 lbs of pressure. Do I decrease the time if I use the 15lbs? I tried canning black beans and there seems to be less liquid in the end. I have an lb of cannellini beans and would love to try this recipe. Thank you.

    1. Because so much science goes into determining the correct time and pressure for different recipes, I really can’t even begin to guess at how to make those adjustments. I’d simply suggest that you can for the recommended amount of time at the higher pressure.

  • Did I miss how long the beans are supposed to cook before funneling them into the jars? Just based on how long the processing time is, I know the beans will finish cooking then, but do the beans go in “raw”? As I understand it from your post, you are just bringing the beans up to a boil. Thanks for clarifying!

    1. You are just bringing the beans to a boil. You’re not really cooking them before they go into the jars, just getting them hot. I find you get a less mushy bean this way.

  • Is there a reason you recommend venting for 15 minutes before applying the regulator? I usually only vent for 10 – I think that’s what the directions for my presto canner specify.

    Thanks for the post! I can’t wait to try this.

    Ooh, maybe your next cookbook should be recipes for the pressure canner! I would love to see a cookbook full of soup and other “convenience” foods done with a pressure canner.

    1. I was taught to vent the pressure canner for 10-15 minutes and so just typically opt for the slightly longer time. You can certainly do it for just 10 if you prefer.

  • Yay! Beans and bean broth for the win! I don’t have a pressure canner, but I make something very much like this to stock my freezer every so often. Homemade beans and broth that are shelf-stable sound even better!

  • this looks so GOOD. Definitely making these. Our baby is due in 10 weeks (in another post you said your manuscript is due in 10 weeks!), so I’m trying to prep some easy food for the chaos that usually ensues after a baby is born. These beans would be great.

  • This looks great! I am wondering if this is specific to white beans or if it would be possible to do this method for any type of bean. I am going to grow many different varieties in my garden this year and I am looking for different ways of preserving them for year round use (other than simply drying them which I am planning to do with most of them – it’s just easier to have some you don’t have to soak and then cook and THEN use in a recipe!).

  • Quick question: Why don’t you use a new lid for canning the beans? Is that only when using the pressure canner? Thanks!

      1. Fabulous recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

        You may want to reword that section of your wonderful article/recipe because as written, when you say to put on a lid and ring you then just say it doesn’t have to be new — it is unclear as to whether you mean the lid or the ring πŸ™‚ Could be really dangerous for newbies who do not know that they MUST always use a new lid each and every time that they can anything whether it is water bath or pressure canning.

  • This Rosemary White Bean Soup Starter recipe does not tell how long to boil/simmer the beans before putting in jars and pressure canning.
    Could you please respond to my email address with the answer as I won’t be able to come back to your site often to look for the answer.
    Thank you so much for your time.

  • I made this about a year ago and it is delicious. We enjoyed it soon after canning, and have enjoyed jars of it several times over the past year and it is really good each time.

  • I have made this before and really loved it! But when I compare it to my Ball Blue Book recipe for canning bean soup, they instruct to boil the beans for 30 minutes before putting in jars, as does the University of Georgia canning book. I prefer not to boil for 30 minutes, what do you suggest.

    1. I find that boiling the beans for 30 minutes prior to canning leaves the beans too soft. As long as they are hot through before going into jars, things should be fine.

  • This is years after your post, but I make several quarts of this every year. It’s so delicious! When I use a jar, I add various things I have on hand. Diced pancetta, carrots, celery, onion. It is the best winter meal!

  • Very helpful.. .I also use this recipe for canning other types of beans. I am going to try things please gave us More.