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Jan 6, 2010 01:37 AM

Bean Soup Advice

I'm making bean soup with a leftover suckling pig shoulder. Yesterday I made stock with the bone, a little meat, veggies, and aromatics. I (maybe stupidly) also added salt.

I salted and soaked my dried black-eyed peas overnight. I was planning on rinsing and cooking those in the broth today.

I keep reading warnings not to salt the beans while they are cooking (tough skins, etc.). So now I'm worried---should I cook the beans separately in plain water, rather than the stock, since it's salted? Won't I lose all the delicious beany juices?


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  1. There were some recent threads here about brining (which you did) and cooking beans with salt. I "accidently" cooked some salted beans some years ago and had no problems with tough beans, contrary to popular belief. Now I cook my beans in broth with aromatics, herbs, whatever and it works out fine. It's more that you let the beans simmer, rather than boil, that makes the difference at the end.
    You know, you don't have to pre-soak black eyed peas if you don't want to. They cook up fairly quickly, much faster than regular dried beans.
    I'm making a white bean soup myself today with a ham bone. With all the cold weather we're having, it seems so right.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Well, the soup came out OK. It was tasty, but I WAY underestimated how long the beans would take to cook. I thought maybe 45 min.-1hr., max, but mine seemed to take as long as regular beans (more like 2 1/2 hrs.). Unfortunately, I'd added all my aromatics and chopped veggies along with the beans at the beginning, so they ended up being mushy.

      Tasty mush, but still. At least the flavor was good. Leftovers today!

      1. re: ChristinaMason

        Hm, that's strange. Black eyed peas don't normally take too long to cook, 1 1/2 hours or so, and you did pre-soak them, wow. BTW, are they readily available in Germany? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm wondering if they were imported and maybe a wee bit old.
        I don't add the veggies until the beans are almost there, another 20 minutes for the veggies to cook doesn't make much difference in the life of a cooked bean and they're nice and tender by the time the veggies are done.
        The white (Great Northern) beans I used yesterday cooked in an hour. I was shocked. I got a 2# bag from a soup kitchen, I guess they're this year's crop.
        Anyway, it's a new year, onward and upward! Leftovers for me today too.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          I'm sure they probably were the least, they were definitely imported (I believe from India). Anyway, no harm, no foul. I was surprised they took so long, too, considering they soaked overnight and most of the day!

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            I too have found that age really affects cooking time ...

      2. I wouldn't worry about it, just cook them in the soup.

        1. just cook the peas in the broth. if your soup is salty, then make some corn bread, and use it as a dipper for the soup -- or serve it on unsalted rice. hmmm. i love black eyed peas and made a big batch (from frozen) for new year's day. my brother in law makes the best cornbread from only white fine cornmeal (and flour). so tender!

          do you ever use hot pepper vinegar on the beans at the table? or chopped onions?

          2 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            We've used plain white vinegar on baked beans of all kinds for years, and we love black eyed peas. I always fold some minced raw onion into a hot pot of baked beans, but will try it, and some hot pepper, on black-eyed peas as well.

            1. re: shaogo

              we love this texas pete pepper vinegar:

              you can refill it with vinegar of any sort (i use white or rice) for a while until the peppers lose their zip.

          2. After going to the trouble of preparing home-made stock, I would not want to risk an overly salty soup. Soak another batch of beans without salt. You can freeze the ones you've already done and use them for something else.

            4 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              does salting the beans in the soak make them salty? i've frankly never used salt in a soak -- just water.

              1. re: greygarious

                I'm wondering how much salt soaking beans will absorb and what ratio of water to salt the OP used for brining? I thought the point of the brining process was for simply softening the bean skins, rather than actually seasoning the beans. The ATK brine ratio was 1 gal water:3 Tbsp. salt; if that's what the OP used, or somthing close to it, the beans wouldn't be even remotely salty.
                Just food for thought.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  Ok, good. I threw in maybe 1 Tbsp. to a liter/1.5 liter pot of water. Should be OK, I think.

                  I'll report back after cooking tonight. Assuming I don't fall asleep over the stove, first!

                  Thanks for the advice, everyone.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    Soaking in cold salted water does indeed flavor the beans. Like in any brining, the water carries the salt into the food. Brining gently salts the beans. I have a very light (to non-existanet) hand with the salt shaker and find that when I use a salt-water soak, the beans, once rinses and cooked in fresh, unsalted water, have plenty of flavor without additional seasoning - that is NOT the case with those that have been both soaked and cooked in plain water.

                2. Just proceed as planned. You'll be fine.