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Thursday, February 13, 2014

My First Dry Bean Dish

As a good tightwad, I should have a repertoire of dry bean dishes. I don’t.

Beans provide fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals and no saturated or trans fat. Also, dry beans are easy to store.

I do like beans but I use canned beans. Also, I have a few crock-pot recipes that call for canned beans, but I don’t have a dry bean recipe.

So, I began a search for a dry bean recipe I could make. In my research, I found two bean soup recipes that have been on the U.S. Senate menu every day for over 100 years and decided to use it as a guide to making my own bean soup.

Here is the original recipe:

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe

2 pounds dried navy beans
four quarts hot water
1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened.

Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally.

Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup.

Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 8.

Source: U.S. Senate: Reference Home > Senate Bean Soup http://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_item/bean_soup.htm

Ria Stone’s Bean Soup

Note: Dry beans expand during cooking, so when you choose a quantity of beans to cook, consider the size of your cooking dish. Add enough beans to fill about 1/3 or less of the casserole dish. Also, the type of bean and the length of the soaking time will affect the cooking time.

  • 1/4 of a kg bag of frijoles (generic Mexican beans), or use navy beans or white beans, rinse and sort -- remove unsightly beans and debris like rocks
  • 4 - 12 cups water
  • two shakes garlic powder
  • two shakes black pepper
  • one garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 can of Spam, chopped
Alternative spices: sage, or rosemary and thyme, or bacon, or ham, or ham bones.

Mexican Frijoles (Beans)


Put cleaned beans in casserole dish with a lid.

Add four cups of water to cover beans and a little more.

Cover and put in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, season with garlic powder, black pepper and olive oil.

Cover. Microwave 7-10 minutes on high, bring to a boil.

Remove, stir, add two - three more cups of water, return to microwave, cook for 7-10 minutes.

In a saucepan, brown onions and garlic in olive oil, add to beans.

Add Spam.

Cook additional 7 minutes.

Check beans. Stir. Cook for 7 minutes.

The beans are obviously soaking up the liquid because there is very little soup.

Check beans. Add 3 cups water, if needed. Stir.

Check beans. Stir. Cook another 10 minutes.

How do you tell the difference between an undercooked bean and an overcooked bean? Some of the beans seem shriveled, others hard.

Check beans. Add 2 cups water. Stir. Cook for another 10 minutes. The reason for adding water as the beans cook is to avoid having the liquid boiling over and out of the casserole dish.

Check beans. I got it. The beans are full and soft.

Take one cup of beans from casserole dish, mash with a fork and return to casserole dish to thicken soup.

Season to taste.


This is a troublesome recipe for me. I am short. The microwave hangs on the wall. It is a reach to put in or take out the casserole dish.

I spilled liquid when I took out or put the casserole dish in the microwave. This is an additional reason why I don’t do dry beans. Too much time, too much trouble.

This dish like many become more flavorful if they are stored in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Note: 1/4 pkg of beans in a medium casserole dish filled the dish 3/4 full.

My future goal is to soak enough beans (less than 1/4 pkg) to make a single or double serving of a bean dish. Also, a smaller casserole dish would make things easier.

The Math

For me, the math of cooking is always a surprising hurdle.

For this recipe I had a kg bag of frijol beans.

The recipe called for 2 pounds of dried beans and 4 quarts of water or one gallon of water.

One kg is roughly 2 pounds. So, I would need a gallon of water for one bag.

1/2 a bag would need 1/2 gallon of water or 2 quarts of water.

I wanted to use 1/4 a bag, so I would need 1 quart of water or 2 pints.

A pint is 32 ounces or 4 (8 ounces) cups of water. So, I would need 8 cups of water. In the end, I used 12 cups of water.

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