Cranberry Beans with Kale

Another recipe from Whole Foods cooking evangilist Luke Murden. This is a seriously tasty way to prepare an interesting bean. Luke recommends serving over mashed potatoes or polenta but rice will work well.


  • Knives and cutting board
  • 3 qt bowl or pan for soaking beans
  • 5 to 7 quart dutch oven for cooking
  • measuring spoons
  • jigger to measure vermouth
  • prep bowls to queue spices and onions

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried cranberry beans
  • 1 tsp (heaping) celery seed
  • 1 large pinch (1/2 tsp?) dried thyme
  • 1 pinch (1/4 tsp?) red pepper flakes
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • Vermouth (dry)
  • Vegtable stock mix for 5 cups stock
  • Olive oil


  • 1 large head of kale (about 12 leaves)
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic
  • Rice, polenta, or mashed potatoes to serve with the beans. These may be prepped while the beans are boiling gently.

Soaking the beans

Soak the beans over night changing water in the morning and washing before cooking. Soaking removes the long chain sugars that make beans hard to digest. These sugars pass through the stomach unaltered. In the intestines, they promote the production of methane and other gases that cause the flatulence associated with beams. The soaking and washing process removes these sugars.


This stuff should be done before you start cooking. If something is missing, there’s time for a quick run to the shops to get the missing ingredients

  1. Peel carrot and cut into two pieces
  2. Chop the onions (rough chop)
  3. Mince garlic
  4. Measure spices into prep bowls
  5. Stem and chop the kale if using fresh (recommended if in season).
  6. Mix up 5 cups of vegtable stock from Better Than Bouilion


The cooking procedure is pretty simple. The key bits to making things tasty are to soak the beans as described above, to gently sauté the onion and garlic to avoid burning either, and to combine the beans and sautéed onion, garlic, and spices to flavor the beans before boiling them.

As a variation, you can sauté the onions over low heat until they begin to caramelize a little. This will develop an onion soup like flavor in the stock.

  1. Drain beans rinse and drain again.
  2. Preheat the dutch oven on medium low heat (3 or so).
  3. Add and preheat olive oil. Look for the viscosity change. As it heats, it will thin and spread. Tilting the pan causes the oil to flow readily when it is ready for the onion.
  4. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes looking for the onions to develop some transparency.
  5. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or 2. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Reduce heat if needed
  6. Add celery seed, thyme, peper flakes, salt to taste, and a twist or three of black pepper.
  7. Add the beans and stir up to mingle flavors. Stir up for 2 or 3 minutes to coax seasoned oils into the beams. This is important to the dish flavor.
  8. Add stock, carrot, bay leave and allow to come to a boil over low heat. Just a gentle bubble.
  9. Boil for 45 minutes. Add make up liquid (water) to keep the beans covered. Continue until the beans are soft but not coming apart.
  10. While the beans are still soft, add the kale.
  11. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes to wilt the kale.
  12. Add a jigger of vermouth to the pot. Add this right before serving. The aroma of the vermouth is important to the flavor of this dish. If the aromatics cook off, add some more before plating or to reheated leftovers.
  13. Serve plated over polenta or mashed potatoes or in a bowl about half rice and half beans. Add more vermouth if desired, mostly to give a bit of boquet.