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Shrimp & White Beans

October 2023
Chef’s Note: I am a sucker for beans and rice of any kind but especially beans from Rancho Gordo (an heirloom bean purveyor based out of California). Their beans are unbelievably flavorful and very fresh so they often take less time to cook—always a bonus! In the fall and winter, I especially love cooking Rancho Gordo white beans and adding delicious local shrimp. They have many different varieties, but I highly recommend the Marcella white beans when in stock. Obviously cooking a pound of beans will yield a large serving. The good news is that the cooked beans also freeze beautifully.
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1 lb. Rancho Gordo white beans (such as Marcella)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
2 cups chopped celery (about 6 medium stalks)
2 Tbs. sliced garlic (about 5 cloves)
2 tsp. salt, plus 2 more to taste
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 qt. chicken stock (or water)
1½ qts. water
4 bay leaves
Bundle of fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
2 lbs. peeled and deveined shrimp (medium-sized preferably)
¼ cup chopped green onion or Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)


Place beans in a large bowl, cover with water, and soak overnight or at least for a few hours to reduce the cooking time. (This is not mandatory especially since Rancho Gordo beans are so fresh that they cook quickly even without soaking.)

When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the drained beans. Add chicken stock and water (or all water if you are opting for a vegetarian dish). Stir to combine. Add bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about two hours (depending on the freshness of the beans and whether you pre-soaked or not—beans should be tender and creamy when tasted. Add more water or stock during cooking as needed to achieve the desired consistency.)

Remove bay leaves and thyme. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or pepper as desired. At this point, you can puree about two
cups of your beans/broth in a blender or food processor and then return to the pot if you prefer a thicker consistency. (Be careful when pureeing hot substances. It is advisable to allow the substance you are pureeing to cool off a bit.)

Return beans to a simmer and add the shrimp. Cook until they turn pink, just a few minutes. (Alternatively, you can saute your shrimp separately. I like to do this as I prefer to freeze a portion of my beans without the shrimp.) Serve over steamed rice.

Wine Pairings:
Shrimp & White Beans is such a wine-friendly dish, inviting many pairings. I often reach for my tried-and-true favorites like white Burgundy or Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, but it’s also fun to think outside the box and seek out other bright, mineral-driven, Old World white wines like the Friulano pictured here. Friuli is a region in northeastern Italy that borders Austria and Slovenia. You will find a variety of wines from this region, but I most love those made from the Friulano grape, which does remind me of my much-adored Chenin Blanc! 

There are many terrific small producers in the Friuli region, and Ronchi di Cialla is a standout. Paolo and Dina Rapuzzi bought this property in 1970, and today the winery is run by their sons Pierpaolo and Ivan. Ronchi di Cialla is certified as biodiversity friendly by the World Biodiversity Association, and they remain committed to using natural practices with minimal interference in the cellar. 

If you prefer red wines then I would suggest a lighter Old World red like a Cru Beaujolais, served with a chill.