This post will get you started cooking your own dried beans. Once you do, you won’t believe how easy it is, how freakin’ delicious they are, or why you didn’t do this years ago. Promise! Bonus for those of you on a low-sodium diet, you can make a flavorful pot of beans with little or no salt at all. While the soaking and cooking take hours, the actual hands-on time is about 15 minutes. So as long as you’re home…
I’ve been cooking beans a long time. And I thought I was pretty good at it. And then I read Tamar Adler’s book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace and realized I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. This doesn’t just make beans. It makes beans, broth, and soup in a whole pot that I now call… [insert drumroll here]
Oh-My-God Beany-Brothy Delicious (OMG BBD)
Makes a large pot of goodness… 16? servings of beans, plus at least 2 servings of soup. No idea. Just make it.
Hands-on time: 15 minutes total. Cooking time: 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the beans
2 C. (1 lb./450 g) dried beans*
3 carrots, any size
4 stalks celery
1 white, yellow, or brown onion
2 cloves garlic
2 red potatoes, optional
fennel tops (3-5 fronds)
thyme sprigs (handful or a package)
2 bay leaves
2 T. (10 g) kosher or sea salt (omit or reduce for low-sodium diets)
6 T. (90 ml) olive oil (Use the good stuff. Yes you can use less. Most of it ends up in the broth.)
8 C. filtered water
Pour out the dry beans into a shallow bowl, a bunch at a time, and pick through them. Remove any pebbles, sticks, or discolored beans. Some people remove broken beans. I’m not that picky. But yes, I’ve found pebbles before so don’t skip this step. This takes about five minutes.
Put the sorted beans in a large pot and rinse and swirl with enough water to cover them. I use tap water for this step. Drain completely.
In the morning, rinse and drain the beans. Return them to the cooking pot. This took me 10 minutes, including walking out to the garden to cut the fennel and thyme. Prep the vegetables and add them to the pot as you go:
- Scrub the carrots and celery, cut off the tops and bottoms, and cut into three large chunks.
- Cut off the stem end of the onion, then cut it in half lengthwise through the root end. Peel off the papery skin. If you want onions in with your beans at the end, slice the onion lengthwise. If you want the beans to go off by themselves and have another beany life in a different recipe, quarter the onion.
- Smash the garlic cloves with the flat blade of your chef’s knife. Kapow! Remove the papery skin.
- Scrub the potatoes, peel if desired, and cut into large chunks or small dice. (If you want potato dice in your beans at the end, dice the potatoes. If you want to be able to fish the pieces out, cut into quarters.) If you don’t eat white potatoes, that’s cool. Skip them or try a sweet potato or a couple of parsnips. It’s all good.
- Tie the washed fennel fronds and thyme sprigs into a bundle with some clean kitchen twine.
- Add the bay leaves, salt, olive oil, and filtered water.
Bring just to a boil with the lid on the pot, then turn down to a simmer (just barely bubbling). Check the beans after 30 minutes. You want them to be nicely tender but not falling apart. If you are going to make baked beans, you want them to still be pretty firm. Depending on the size of the beans, they cook in 30-120 minutes.
Once the beans are done, remove the herb bundle and bay leaves and compost them. Fish out the large chunks of veggies with a slotted spoon.
You can mash those up for a puree, or blend them with some of the Brothy Deliciousness (BD) and make a lovely veggie soup the next day.
Drain the extra BD into a container. Use it to make gravy, sweet pea soup, or in place of water to cook rice, quinoa, or millet, for more OMG deliciousness.
Serve the drained beans as is, or use them in any recipe calling for cooked beans. You can freeze the beans. I freeze them pre-measured in one- or two-cup containers so I can thaw them for a specific recipe.
* Non-U.S. readers: Dried beans are sold in one-pound packages here. You can use 1/2 kilo in this recipe, and it will turn out just fine. For my baked beans, I used small white beans, but navy beans or any kind of small brownish or white bean will work.
Today’s post is part of our mission to help you rebuild your health through food and lifestyle choices. Look for regular posts on Mondays featuring gluten-free, sugar-free recipes made with healthy plant-based ingredients.