The Macomb Daily
Tips for making bean soup
PICKING OVER DRIED BEANS >> Pour the raw, dried beans onto a white kitchen towel, then spread them out and have a good look; I recently found an ittybitty rock in some dried navy beans.
SOAK TO UNMAKE “THE MISCHIEF” >> I love how cookbook author Dragonwagon describes intestinal gas as mischief. Help to de-gas dried beans by soaking them in cold water (the level of the water should be 2 inches above the surface of the beans) for 6-8 hours. Or use the quick method: Place beans in pot and cover with water by 1-2 inches. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow beans to sit in the water for 1 hour. With either method, drain and rinse beans well after soaking.
MISCHIEF SLOWDOWN >>
A study at UC Berkeley found that bean-eating subjects “reported greater tolerance and less discomfort by the end of a three-week period of bean eating.”
SALT?: >> Don’t add until the beans are thoroughly cooked and tender. The same goes for vinegar, lemon juice and tomatoes. These ingredients toughen the outer coats or skins of the beans. When adding salt at the end, do so to taste. Cooked (dried) beans need salt to be happy.
>> Between 6% and 11% of dried beans’ cooked weight is protein; half a cup of cooked beans, depending on variety, has about 8 grams (an egg has 6).
SHOPPING TIPS >> When purchasing packaged dried beans, look for undamaged bags or boxes with beans of uniform size. As tempting as the assorted beans appear, arranged in their clear cellophane packages, I steer clear of most dried “bean soup mixes.” Due to the differences in size and density of the beans, they require different cooking times; sometimes the results are unsatisfactory.
STORAGE >> Store dried beans in a well-sealed container at cool room temperature. They should keep for up to one year. They will take longer to cook as they age. Do not mix older dried beans with a new batch; cooking times of old and new supply will likely vary. Refrigerate leftover cooked dried beans, airtight, up to 4 days. Bean soups freeze beautifully; eat within 3 months for best flavor.