Editor’s Note (October 2, 2018): Added new photos. Updated recipe’s instructions. See step #6.
Once or twice a week since childhood, I have enjoyed a heaping bowl of beans and crusty cornbread. It never gets old and boring. ALWAYS delicious!
TIP #1. Remove gas and shorten cooking time by soaking beans in water before boiling.
TIP #2. Soak overnight if you prefer very soft beans.
TIP #3. For firm beans (soft inside, not crunchy), soak 4 to 8 hours before boiling to desired tenderness.
TIP #4. To make a pretty presentation, serve a bowl of soup in the center of a Cornbread Bundt Cake. Also makes a creative “savory” birthday gift.
I made this hearty soup with a package of 15 Bean Soup (dry beans) provided by Hurst’s Beans. Dry beans are available in most grocery stores on the same aisle as rice and grains. Some aisles are clearly labeled “Rice and Dry Beans.”
Boiled the soup in my pretty blue dutch oven provided by Lodge Manufacturing. With proper care, this efficient beauty will last for many, many years.
Spread beans out on a large plate or other surface. Remove/discard debris.
Pour beans into a colander. Rinse thoroughly.
Pour rinsed beans into a large lidded container. Cover with water. Top with lid. Place in fridge. Soak 4-8 hours for tender/firm beans. Soak overnight for very soft beans. Soaking removes unpleasant gas.
Drain soak water. Rinse thoroughly.
Place beans in large saucepan or dutch oven. Add chopped ham pieces. Cover with water.
Simmer over low-medium heat WITHOUT LID. Watch closely. Foam will form minutes after simmering. Skim off. If not removed, foam will "disappear" in beans. See cooking notes for more info.
Cover with lid. Simmer over low-medium heat until desired tenderness. Lightly stir to prevent breakage. Add more water if necessary to reach desired tenderness.
After reaching desired tenderness, turn off heat. Season with salt as preferred. Add a little ham seasoning (packaged in bag of dry beans). Stir lightly. Cool and taste a sample. Add more ham seasoning if desired.
Serve hot. Excellent with crusty cornbread.
Shortly after beans start boiling, white foam will form on top. This is phytic acid, a toxin that irritates the stomach in most people. I always skim off.
How to Cook Dried Beans is an informative article from Bon Appetit.