I struggled for years to make a great soup from dried beans. I tried many tricks – soaking, not soaking, salting before then after, cooking them slow, cooking them long and I always struggled.
Most beans do not need soaking (though it can speed up their cooking time). Simply bring dried beans to a strong boil with lots of liquid (I use a minimum of 3-4 times liquid to bean). I generally use liberally salted water. Leave at a boil for 10 minutes before lowering to a simmer and monitor their progress. Most will complete cooking in 40-70 minutes.
Because of such a dramatic range of cooking, my secret to a great multi-bean soup is simple:
Cooking each bean is useful for many reasons:
- It ensures each type of bean reaches the level of cooking you wish
- It prevents discoloration from darker beans leaking into lighter ones
- Excess liquid from lighter beans can be used if you don`t have enough in darker beans
- You could flavor different beans with different stocks.
My standard stock for bean soup include a large can of diced tomatoes (2-4 cups of home canned slices), including liquid, 1-2 liters of stock and a can of tomato paste. I generally add some home-dried onions, dried-celery salt, salt and pepper. While cooking the beans I bring this to a gentle simmer and turn it off to cool (too much cooking turns the tomatoes to indistinguishable mush).
It`s a no-fuss amazing soup and one that improves through the week.
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