2 cups dried white beans, soaked for at least 8 hours
1 small onion, peeled and sliced in half
1 stalk celery, cut into two pieces
1 small carrot, sliced in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried tarragon, or 2 tablespoons fresh
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large leek, sliced thinly
1/2 pound (about 2 generous cups) mushrooms, either cremini, shiitake, or oyster, or a combination, rinsed and sliced thinly
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Drain and rinse the beans and transfer them to a stockpot. Add 4 cups of cold water, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes. Skim off any white foam from the top. Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium; add he onion, celery, carrot, thyme, and tarragon.
Simmer for about 45 minutes, until the beans are very tender. Remove the onion, carrot, and celery (either discard or use in a stock). Lower the heat to low and continue to simmer while preparing the remaining vegetables. The beans should resemble a very thick stew, not a soup. If there's too much liquid, leave the pot uncovered and stir occasionally.
About 10 minutes before the beans are done, place the garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cold skillet. Heat the skillet over medium heat, allowing garlic to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped leek and saute until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the leeks into beans. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, allow it to warm for about 30 seconds, and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms lightly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and saute until most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes depending on the kind of mushroom. When most of the excess liquid is gone, add the mushrooms to beans. Turn off the heat and season the beans with the remaining salt (or more, if desired) and freshly ground black pepper. Allow the beans to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
B made these for me to bring to Christmas dinner on Sunday, so I'd have a protein option. We tried a little bit of it for lunch today and it was AMAZING. I'm curious to see what the family thinks, as I know some don't like mushrooms and others have expressed their dislike of dried beans (preferring mushier canned beans instead. Oh well, more for me & B then!
"These are simple, homey, French-inspired, stick-to-your-ribs beans fro early autumn days. The tarragon and leeks really shine through the mild white beans, and the mushrooms add a chewy bite. This recipe is made with dried beans; canned beans cannot be substituted, so plan accordingly and soak the beans overnight or in the morning before you leave to work." - from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's "Veganomicon: the ultimate vegan cookbook"