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Thread: HELP! Bean soup cooking for hours, beans still rock hard! ???

  1. #1
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    Unhappy HELP! Bean soup cooking for hours, beans still rock hard! ???

    I am a bit laid up from a minor outpatient procedure yesterday and DH decided to make bean soup. (Seared up pieces of pork and used a variety bag of dried "15 beans"). He soaked them beforehand, and basically followed the recipe on the bag. Well, the darn soup has been simmering on the stove for HOURS and those beans are still rock hard!!!

    What is going on??? I have made bean soup before and never had this problem. I am trying to recall what may be causing it... is it adding salt too early? Or maybe the acidity of the tomato juice he used?

    And what (if anything!) can we do to get those beans softened up by dinner time?!!!

    THANK YOU!

    Lynn (*confuzzled one!*)
    I take life with a grain of salt... a wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.

    Visit my blog at: http://www.lifewithlynnb.blogspot.com

  2. #2
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    It could be your water (do you soften it?).
    Try adding 1/4 tsp. of baking soda and WATCH it as the beans can dissolve quickly....

    I know this happens to me every once in a while and sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to it for me. The brand or type (garbanzos are worse for me than most others)..

    Speedy recovery to you
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  3. #3
    It could the tomato juice. Seems I've read that acid from tomatoes will keep the beans from cooking.

    Or are the beans old?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by celestialchef View Post
    It could the tomato juice. Seems I've read that acid from tomatoes will keep the beans from cooking.

    Or are the beans old?
    true, the acid may make cooking take longer. Is he simmering with the pot partially covered? that helps. i hope you feel better soon. if they aren't softer soon, i'd order out for pizza and transfer the beans to a crockpot and cook on high for an hour, then on low till done. at least you'll have a meal tomorrow, and he won't have to keep fussing with the pot.

  5. #5
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    Talking Thanks, all!

    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    It could be your water (do you soften it?).
    Try adding 1/4 tsp. of baking soda and WATCH it as the beans can dissolve quickly....
    I know this happens to me every once in a while and sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to it for me. The brand or type (garbanzos are worse for me than most others)..

    Speedy recovery to you
    OHMYGOSH, you are BRILLIANT!!! I did just what you suggested (put 1/4 tsp. of baking soda in the pot) and within 15 minutes those beans went from rock hard to perfectly cooked!!! That's amazing! I still can't believe it! Thank you so much!

    Lynn
    I take life with a grain of salt... a wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.

    Visit my blog at: http://www.lifewithlynnb.blogspot.com

  6. #6
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    And this is why I always "cheat" with canned beans....

    Wallycat, do you promise the baking soda ALWAYS works????
    “It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society”.----Krishnamurti

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    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    Try adding 1/4 tsp. of baking soda and WATCH it as the beans can dissolve quickly....
    I wish I'd read this two weeks sooner! A couple of weeks ago I made bean soup and, against my better judgement, added the dried beans and tomatoes at the same time to the broth, then simmered to cook the beans (I knew this could cause problems, but my faith in Deborah Madison was that great). The beans never really cooked fully, and after 4 hours we really needed to eat! I pureed it, and it was probably the first soup I've ever made that we threw out the leftovers instead of freezing them for lunches. It was quite frustrating, especially since I knew better.

    Amy

  8. #8
    No more than 1/8 tsp of baking soda per cup of beans should be added as baking soda destroys the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, etc).

    Dolores
    "we can't go 'round measuring our goodness by what we don't do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude...
    we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include."
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    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  9. #9
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    Hmmm...I think that my next test reward is going to be a pressure cooker....

    Wouldn't that solve any bean cooking problems? I've never made dried beans before. Well, except lentils. I've done that, but that wasn't too hard.
    Erin

    "Eating peanut butter is a sacred act, not to be defiled by pork or its substitutes."

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  10. #10
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    Just this past Sunday, I finally got around to trying my infamous Rancho Gordo beans. I am (was?) a complete dry-bean-cooking-novice. I was scared. I needed reassurance. I called my sister. I followed her directions (which involved adding at least one bottle of beer to the cooking liquid), and after 4 hours my beans were still undercooked. (This included using a 'quick soak method' from Martha Stewart.) I called my sister again. We chatted about what simmer really means, and basically we made the executive decision to pump up the heat to they were at a much harder simmer - like at points seemed nearly slow boiling. Well, they were cooked in about another hour. From now on, I am going to cook my dry beans at a very rapid/hot/high/whatever simmer

    PS The Rio Zape beans are AWESOME from Rancho Gordo!!!!!!!!
    - Josie


  11. #11
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    I am happy the baking soda worked. Yes, it always works.
    And yes, the b-vitamins can be leached a bit, but if you are making soup, you are drinking/eating the water they are leaching into, so not much loss at all. I suggested 1/4 tsp. because I'd assumed at least 2 cups of beans in a big pot of soup (which is about 1 pound of beans, give or take). I think that amount varies in terms of how hard your water is to begin with.

    I also think that because you get B-vitamins from other sources, if you have the occasional bean-run-a-muck and need the baking soda, you are still getting polyphenols, fiber, and other good things from the beans. For me, I'd rather not dump a whole pot of what I was making....and most of the time, my beans do cook up.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  12. #12
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    Yum!

    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    I am happy the baking soda worked. Yes, it always works.
    And yes, the b-vitamins can be leached a bit, but if you are making soup, you are drinking/eating the water they are leaching into, so not much loss at all. I suggested 1/4 tsp. because I'd assumed at least 2 cups of beans in a big pot of soup (which is about 1 pound of beans, give or take). I think that amount varies in terms of how hard your water is to begin with.

    I also think that because you get B-vitamins from other sources, if you have the occasional bean-run-a-muck and need the baking soda, you are still getting polyphenols, fiber, and other good things from the beans. For me, I'd rather not dump a whole pot of what I was making....and most of the time, my beans do cook up.
    I just wanted to say "THANKS! " again... the soup was DE-LISH, and I owe it all to YOU!

    That's a trick I hope I remember!
    I take life with a grain of salt... a wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.

    Visit my blog at: http://www.lifewithlynnb.blogspot.com

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    I am happy the baking soda worked. Yes, it always works.
    Apparently it works for all vegetables, but is not necessarily a good thing. I never knew this before, but last night I happened to watch the Alton Brown episode on cabbage where he mentioned that older cookbooks often suggested adding a couple teaspoons of baking soda to the water when boiling cabbage to keep it green. Then he added that "you don't want to do this, because it turns all vegetables to mush!"

    Bob

  14. #14
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    As a fairly recent convert to dried beans, it hasn't occurred to me to cook them in my soup. Oops, I guess that's sort of the point, isn't it? I've been cooking them separately and then adding them in later .
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  15. #15
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    In a recent Cook's Illustrated, as part of making a Tuscan bean soup, they went through a brine soak and then cooked them in low heat in the oven to have soft skins with very few burst beans.

    Not a solution to the hard beans after hours of cooking, of course, but it looked like an interesting method to play with when starting the beans.
    -- Nancy

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by avariell View Post
    We chatted about what simmer really means
    Recent simmering feature and video

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    As a fairly recent convert to dried beans, it hasn't occurred to me to cook them in my soup. Oops, I guess that's sort of the point, isn't it? I've been cooking them separately and then adding them in later .
    I often do that too-- but it's about being able to make something from scratch in steps when you need to, and having control and convenience. i hate it when i can't eat the soup because the beans are still hard while everything else is perfect! and i've had that happen even with lentils!

  18. #18
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    Don't all the other flavors get muddled if they all cook together with the beans? I know that when I cook dried beans they seem to take about 2 hours, and that seems like a looong time to leave a soup simmering. If you put the beans on to cook, you can do all the rest of the prep and clean-up and then put it all together, no?
    But keep in mind: I make soup on Sunday evenings when my entire evening is dedicated to being in the kitchen, so my method works out well for me. It might be less practical on a different schedule.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

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