Sunday, March 6, 2011

101 Bean Soup - It's Just Plain Hard to Cook With Beans

I'm sure it was almost a month ago, as I was perusing the bulk section that I decided to buy a bag of 15 Bean Soup Mix.  I finally used them for today's Sunday Stew Special.  Here's what I did.

4 slices bacon, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounce package 15 bean
 mixture, soaked overnight, drained & rinsed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed
2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon for a few minutes, then add carrots. Cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder and garlic; cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, and add beans & tomatoes in juice.  Pour Veggie stock over all and stir.  (I learned how to make Veggie Stock from my friend, Lisa.
2. Cover, and cook 6 hours on low or until beans are tender. (6 hours wasn't long enough for my beans!) Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

We came home from church to the smell of a delicious bean soup waiting for us.  But when I took the lid off and sampled it, I discovered they were still hard.  Arrrgh!  I hurriedly put the beans in a pot to simmer on the stove, but it was almost an hour till they were tender enough to serve.  I'm sure by that point my family would have eaten rocks so they were just happy when they were called to the table.

It was served piping hot with whole wheat buns.  Here were the reviews from the Brownlee Test Kitchen!

Husband:  I like it.  It's good.  Really.  But yeah.... the beans are a little underdone.
Homestay Student:  I didn't even know they weren't done enough.  It's so good.  I love the spice.  I'm glad it has no meat; I was craving something not very heavy.
Grandma:  It's good.  The flavour is very nice.
10 Yr Old:  It's a little spicy.
12 Yr Old:  I haven't tried it yet, it's too hot.  The bun is good dipped in it.  (I never did get her opinion on the soup.  Actually, I'm not even sure if she actually ate any.)
4 Yr Old:  She didn't even make it till lunch was ready; she ate a bun and then had a nap.
The Cook:  I really like the mild spicy flavour, but how long do I need to cook these beans???  Maybe I should have done them in the slow cooker all night long.

To get to the bottom of my underdone lentils, I found a helpful article with great tips for cooking with dried beans.   I figured out what I did wrong -  cooking them in the acidic tomato juice actually means they will take longer.  The tomatoes should get added at the very end.  I'm not going to give up learning how to cook with dried beans yet!  I will conquer those stubborn little legumes!

P.S.  The reason I called this 101 Bean Soup is because when my youngest asked me what I was making, and I answered, "15 Bean Soup", she said, "You mean 101 Bean Soup.  Because there's 101 Puppies in the doggie movie."  Gotta love 4 yr old logic.


  1. Lynn, I used to get so frustrated with hard beans! Then I read that if you cook them with salt, they stay hard. So now, after I soak the beans/legumes a day or two, I cook them in water only. When they are soft, I add the the other ingredients. One day last week, all I added to the cooked beans was cut-up leftover chicken. The flavour in the chicken added enough taste to the soup/stew. Amazingly even my picky eater son loved it!

  2. Although I did not time it, the beans became soft in a few hours (I turned the burner on while we did our school work and the beans were ready for lunch).

  3. Thanks for the tips - that's good to know about the salt!

  4. I'm slowly learning how to cook dried beans. My strategy - cook them seperate and then add them. I had no idea about tomatoes and salt etc. - good to know!
    Glad the soup stock worked for you!

  5. Do you know how long you can keep cooked beans in the fridge? Do you cook on the stove or the slow cooker?