Thursday, October 18, 2012

Learn About Cooking Beans and Navy Bean Soup

Learn About Cooking Beans and Navy Bean Soup

Did you know that Beans contain more protein per pound than meat? Most meats contain 60 to 70 percent water. Beans are also high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

They're low in fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol or sugar. Sounds like a great way to improve your diet and your health.

They're also pretty boring, right? So how do you spice it up?

Find a great recipe and use a pressure cooker. The recipe will give you cooking times and the pressure cooker will speed the process greatly. Rinse the beans thoroughly in cold running water before placing in pressure cooker.

This applies to pre-soaked as well because you want to get rid of any debris that may have been included in the production or packaging. Add spices, flavorings, carrots, onions, etc.

Do not add salt or acid-like flavorings such as lemon juice or vinegar as this will toughen the beans during cooking. Add the flavorings near the end of the cooking process so that they are absorbed by the beans when they have become tender.

Some beans need to be pre-soaked, but you need to check to see which ones require soaking. Dried peas, for instance, do not require soaking, but Kidney beans and Red Beans do.

The cookbook that accompanies your pressure cooker may have a chart but you can also find a great chart on MissVickie's pressure cooker website for the specific type of bean you are planning to use.

Beans and legumes tend to foam and froth during the cooking process so you must be sure that you do not fill your pressure cooker more than one-half full. Also adding a tablespoon of fat or oil to the water will control some of the foaming (not margarine).

Make sure you've covered the beans by at least two inches of liquid. Close and lock pressure cooker, and cook for the recommended amount of time in your recipe. Release pressure naturally.

You'll know the beans are done when they squish easily between fingers or with a fork. If not tender, pressure cook for an additional three to five minutes.

Navy Bean Soup

1 (16 oz.) pkg dried Navy Beans

6 cups chicken stock

1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

Ham - left over ham bone with pieces

or 1 thick slice center cut ham

1 Tbsp dried parsley

1 bay leaf

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp black pepper

2 to 3 cups water

Pre-soak Navy Beans for 4 hours, or quick soak beans by boiling for five minutes and letting sit for 2 hours. Do not add salt to water as it will toughen the beans.

Meanwhile chop onion, dice ham and prepare spices. Rinse beans thoroughly after pre-soak and drain. Sauté onions, chopped garlic and ham in pressure cooker pot with a bit of oil.

Add all other ingredients and close pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure setting and cook for 20 minutes. Use natural release.

Test beans for doneness. Pressure cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes if necessary. Release pressure naturally. Taste for seasoning and remove bay leaf. You may now wish to add some additional salt depending upon the saltiness of the ham you have used.

I use an immersible blender to puree 2 or 3 cups of the soup in a separate bowl and return to the soup to present a creamier texture before serving.

There are many variations of flavorings you can use to customize your own Navy Bean Soup. Have fun experimenting and enjoy.

Here's to hearty comfort food and a healthier life style.

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