White Beans with Rosemary

You know how every summer, I spend about 92% of my time complaining about the weather in Louisiana? Yes, it’s true, summer in Louisiana kills my soul (and just for kicks, I thought I’d throw pregnancy into the mix this last summer…it was amazing when my baby was born and I suddenly didn’t feel overheated and filled murderous rage the vast majority of the time). But what’s even more melancholy for this Utah girl are the lack of distinct seasons. Winter can be yucky. Or it could just feel like spring. But we never really get a spring or a fall, which are my two favorite seasons. And in  November, when it’s in the 60s or 70s and I get all homesick for the swirling leaves and crisp, chilly air and legitimate sweater-wearing, I start making food that reminds me of home.

When the weather does get even remotely chilly, I jump all over it. Bust out the corduroys and the Christmas music and make rustic, homey things in my slow cooker like beans with smokey bacon and earthy rosemary. It’s perfect comfort food, especially when you use a loaf of hearty bread like ciabatta and this garlic bread seasoning to make a loaf of garlic bread to dip into your beans.

You’ll need bacon (make sure it’s not maple bacon…yummy as it is, it would only make you sad here), a pound of dry great northern beans, an onion, some garlic, a quart of chicken broth, red wine vinegar, and fresh rosemary.

Take your beans…

and rinse them, picking through them and picking out any stones or yucky, shriveled beans.

Then cut your bacon up into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and then add the bacon. Cook until crisp and then remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Set it aside.

Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of bacon drippings and discard the rest. Add the onion

and cook until tender and fragrant. When the onion is almost done cooking, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 additional minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the beans, chicken broth, water, garlic, onion, and bacon in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours (high elevations may need longer) or low all day. Or you could start it on high until it boils and then turn it down low. Or soak your beans first and cook them shorter. This could really be it’s very own post. But just cook them until the beans are tender. Add the vinegar, chopped rosemary, and season with salt and pepper to taste. This serves about 6-8.

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  1. Last week I happened to be at the grocery store checking out the Mexican aisle and was intrigued to find ham bouillion that the box suggested to use with beans or in soups. I bought it and was just waiting to try it out in something.

    I made this recipe tonight with 2 packets (equivalent to 1/2 pound ham) of bouillion, and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD. It’s very possible that the recipe would’ve been equally amazing without it, but my daughter took 2 bites and declared this her favorite soup ever. It totally rocks; thank you!! I’ve never made a bean soup of this type before (primarily beans), but it was delicious. And healthy. For those who are curious, I ran the nutritionals, and using light butter (50 cal/Tbsp), plus 8 slices of the pre-cooked Hormel bacon (it was all I had on hand) the entire recipe came in at 601 calories.

  2. I made this yesterday. We had the missionaries over for dinner. One of the boys cannot eat sugar. Both loved the soup, garlic bread, fruit salad and red onion-topped green salad. I had to work all afternoon, so I had to put this together with a shortcut – I used canned white beans (low sodium). I used 4 cans of white beans, 2 of them I drained, the other 2 I just put all the liquid in. 1 cup of chicken broth instead of 4. 8 cut-up strips of hickory bacon (with the extra white fat trimmed off because it grossed me out to see it). I chopped and crushed my rosemary (a cut that my MIL gave me that I keep in a gallon-size zip lock baggie in my herb cabinet). It softened just fine and gave a great flavor. Everything else I did just as written. It is tasty. I did the bacon prep as directed (holy fatty bacon, batman!), poured the canned beans/onions/pressed garlic and liquid in and put it on Low at 11:00am. I added the butter/rosemary/vinegar and salt at 4:00 and let it cook until the missionaries showed up at 5:15.

    Very good for a first-time-bacon-buyer (don’t hate!). The missionaries kept saying things like, “Bacon makes everything amazing.” The soup is 1 for 1.

  3. Made this for dinner tonight. I added minced mini sweet bell peppers for color (orange, red, yellow) with the onions, and it was delicious.
    I love the fresh Rosemary. We have a giant bush in the backyard and I’m always looking for recipes that use Rosemary.
    Flavor was great. I cooked on high in crockpot for 6 hours and it was done. I did omit the vinegar, wasn’t sure if I would like that or not. It hit the spot here in the dreary Pacific northwest.

  4. We must see things differently when we look out the window here in Louisiana. For the past 3 weeks, I have enjoyed the the leaves in their fall colors, the swirling leaves as I walk on my break and the black-eyed Susans in their abundance along the highways. Everywhere I look, I see the beauty of Fall. I have lived in other parts of the country, including Utah, and I see the same colors here as I did there. As for no Spring, how did you miss the Dogwood Trail where dogwoods bloom in early Spring in white or pink, the red clover that covers the medians, the azaleas, magnolias, wisteria and the budding trees everywhere. Signs of the seasons abound!

  5. How did you KNOW I have fresh rosemary leftover from Thanksgiving that I was looking for a way to use? 🙂 Thanks! YUM

  6. Thank you for vocalizing the feelings I experience every fall. People here in FL think that the lack of snow makes up for the lack of seasons. I honestly forget what month it is sometimes. Looking forward to trying this dish. Also, thanks for posting your experience with your son. It has helped me be a much more cautious parent.

  7. I will probably get shouted at for asking this, but is there anything I could substitute for the bacon? I love slow cooker beans, but I’m a vegetarian so bacon is not really my thing. What would you recommend? Sun dried tomatoes? Thanks! 😀

    1. *I* won’t shout at you. 🙂 My go-to sub for the flavor of bacon is smoked paprika. I’d add about a teaspoon while it cooks and then add more when it’s done cooking if you feel like it needs it.

      1. Let me chime in here about a veggie version. This recipe sounds just like a delicious vegetarian cassoulet recipe from allrecipes.com. It uses a combo of mushroom broth or bullion and regular veggie broth or bullion and then similar spices. It comes out pretty thick, and I like to smear leftovers onto toast or bagels. Hmm, maybe I’ll make this next week!

        Here is a link:

  8. I hear you on the stupid weather down here! I’m a Washington girl transplanted to TX. When the temps drop here (60) and I’m happy in a t-shirt the people here are bundled up like it’s 20! However when they are comfortable in jeans when it’s 95 I’m in as little clothing possible and still sweating to death!! I can’t believe it’s going to be in the upper 70’s for the first days of Dec.!!

  9. Is there another herb you can replace the rosemary with that would pair just as nice? We are not crazy about rosemary but I love white beans!

    1. Since you’re not adding it until the very end, I would probably leave it out, taste the beans, and then decide if you want to add anything. You could add fresh thyme or cayenne pepper or lemon zest or all sorts of things that would be delicious! 🙂

  10. I’ve lived in the South all of my life and there are defintely things to complain about here–namely the months of summer that skip right over fall and spring. BUT…when you can wear flipflops and tee-shirts in March (and usually throughout January and February) it makes it a little bit worth it. But, I will say that around here if the weather so much at hints at being cold (like today–59 all day) everyone busts out sweaters, boots and chili for supper! These beans look great. 🙂

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