It’s back to basics this week. The two recipes that I’m posting this week are the most simple, most convenient and most nutrient-packed foods you can keep in your fridge or freezer. I’m talking about bean soup and refried beans.
First, they’re simple recipes because they require the most meager number of ingredients. Today, you’re going to need beans, water and salt. As a bonus, these are also the cheapest ingredients you can find. You can buy any kind of beans you like- pinto, black, Peruvian, navy, great northern, etc. Personally, my favorites for bean soup are Peruvian, navy (sometimes also just called white beans) and pinto. In California, Peruvians are pretty easy to find in Latino markets (usually labeled “peruanos”). In Philly, navy beans are easy to find in delis. Pintos are just about everywhere. If you prefer black beans, you may just be Central American.
Second, the recipes for this week are CONVENIENT. You could never go hungry as long as you have a batch of beans around. The 2 hour cooking time might seem inconvenient but here’s what I do. I cook them in the evening, after dinner. I store some in the fridge and store the rest in the freezer. They keep in the fridge for a week and freeze beautifully. If you open my fridge, you will find beans zipped tight in one cup servings, ready to throw into any recipe. In the next post, I’ll talk about what you can make with refried beans but this week I’ll stick to bean soup. You can ladle up a bowl for a quick meal. Drain the liquid and discover new uses. Make minestrone soup or a heartier chicken soup. Add beans to pasta or gnocchi for a vegetarian dish like this Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans. Mix in some rice and top with salsa for a super fast, super nutritious meal.
Now, there are a million sites on the internet that teach you how to cook beans. However, this is the only one with instructions that come from my mom. Therefore, this is the best.
Basic Bean Soup
- 4 cups beans (2 lbs)
- 3 quarts water (12 cups)
- 2 tbsp. salt
1. First, start off by checking the beans for any pebbles. Nowadays, it’s pretty rare to find pebbles but check anyways because cosmetic dentistry is expensive.
2. Using a colander, rinse the beans under running water.
3. Add the water to a large pot and set to boil. I realized that I don’t own a pot large enough for 3 quarts of water so always check first and halve the recipe if necessary.
4. Add beans to water, you don’t have to wait for the water to boil.
5. Let the water come to a boil.
6. Once the water is boiling, immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover.
7. Cook for 2 hours, adding the salt near the end. My mom says to let the beans cook for no less than 2 hours and always on a low setting. She’s serious about this. She also makes the best beans so you should listen to her.
Note: By now some of you are going to get flustered about the fact that there is no soaking time. I know, because I got flustered about it too. I repeatedly asked my mom about this, pointing to various sources that insist on soaking, asking her if she was sure. She shrugged her shoulders and told me, “You can soak them if you want, but you don’t have to.” And you know what, she’s right, you don’t need soaking time. Your GI tract will be fine.
Serving Size: 1 cup
WW Points+: 5
Calories 245, Carbs 45g, Fat 1g, Protein 15g
What else can you do with beans?
Go Mediterranean with Roasted Lemon & White Bean Hummus
Go Italian with Creamy Tuscan White Bean Pasta
Go Argentinean with Steak, Rice and Beans with Chimichurri Sauce
Or go to step 2 and make Low Fat, Vegetarian, Unbelievably Delicious Refried Beans