What the Hey Do You Do with Dried Beans?

Several weeks ago, Luke Murden, our 757 Whole Foods Cooking Coach, demoed preparation of Swedish brown beans. These medium sized beans have a mahogany color and make a delightful thick stock as they cook. I grabbed a copy of Luke’s recipe, stuffed it in a jacket pocket, and hid it. A couple of weeks later, I tried to make the beans by memory with guidance from Joy of Cooking and Fannie Farmer but failed miserably. Changing coats, I found Luke’s recipe. So here goes.

Cooking Time

This recipe requires about a day for overnight soaking of the beans and about 2 hours to cut up, assemble, and cook.


  • 3 quart or larger vessel in which to soak the beans
  • 5 quart Dutch oven
  • 2 quart prep bowl to hold diced stuff
  • monkey dish to hold measured spices and garlic
  • chefs knife
  • cutting board
  • 4 ounce serving spoon

Soaking the Beans

All beans contain long chain saccharides (sugars) that digest in the large intestine rather than being absorbed in the stomach. In the gut, bacteria digest these saccharides making copious quantities of carbon dioxide among other metabolic products. The end result is a flatulent diner.

Soaking the beans over night removes the saccharides. The beans will expand by a factor of 4 during soaking. Use 1 quart of pot volume per cup of dried beans. For most recipes, a 3 quart pot works. Add the beans and fill the pot to within an inch of the top and cover. Let sit undisturbed until morning. In the morning, change the water and continue soaking until ready to cook.

It is important that all the beans be covered. Add water as needed to maintain liquid over all the beans.

Carnivore Option

Buy a quarter pound or so of your favorite sausage (Italian, andouille, chorizo). Skin the sausage, mush it flat with a board knife, and scramble it while browning. Remove the sausage and reserve the oil to begin the vegetable sauté step. Once the vegetables are sautéed, add the browned sausage.


The vegetables listed are those required to make Luke’s learning recipe. You can go big on all of these to produce a chunky result or to make bean soup.

  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 large stalk of celery diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  •  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • optional 1 or 2 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes

Dice all of the vegetables, probably 1/2 cm dice. Mince the garlic. Sauté these as follows.

  1. Add olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot and begin heating, 2.5 to 3 on electric.
  2. Add the spices to the cold oil and warm until some bubbling is observed. The garlic may go in at this point.
  3. When the garlic begins emitting steam, add the onions, celery, and carrots and stir to coat with oil
  4. Cover and roast for 20 minutes at low heat.

During the roasting process, the vegetables will reduce in volume and begin to caramelize. If you prefer, you can continue until some color is developed but take care to reduce the heat. By the 20 minute mark, most of the liquid will have been liberated and the temperature of the brew will begin to rise. Keep a close watch reducing heat as needed to prevent burning.

Cooking the Beans

This is where I went wrong in my first go. Back in the day, Fannie Farmer, Myrtle Hamby, and Ethel Watson cooked their beans in an excess of water, typically 4 to 5 cups of liquid per cup of soaked beans. At the end of cooking, they drained the beans and discarded that great stock they had just made.

Luke Murden’s method uses 2 cups of water per cup of dried beans. When I made my beans, I used 2 cups of dried beans and 2 liters of water (1 to 4 ratio). As a result, that delightful thickening that occurred during Luke’s demo went missing in my go. So don’t do as I did, do it this way.

  1. Drain the beans
  2. Add to the vegetables and stir up well
  3. Add the 2 cups of liquid per cup of dried beans
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of low sodium Better Than Bouillon per cup of dried beans
  5. Let this simmer until everything is well mixed
  6. Cook about 1 hour until beans are soft and some gravy begins to form
  7. Taste the broth at this point and adjust salt and pepper

And The Priest Fainted Lentil Soup

I have no idea why I named it thus other than to warn you that this is not Mom’s Lentil Soup. It has a good bit of other stuff in it as inspired by several recipes for lentil soup that I found on the Internet. I know, Internet recipes are risky. Often they assume experience but this one does not. If you can measure, dice stuff keeping all your parts, and sauté without burning the house down, you can make this main dish soup. It is pretty thick so it can be served as a soup or over rice as a curry but it is a vegetable stock not relying on cream or coconut milk.

This recipe is assembled in three passes. The first pass does all the slicing and dicing. The second pass sautés the veggies. The third pass creates the soup.

Vegan Note

I use Better than Bouillon “chicken” stock for this soup. This product contains a small amount of rendered chicken fat. The largest ingredient is salt. Most of the flavor is from glutamates and other wonders of food science that have non-chicken origins. A table spoon gives a whole lot of flavor that beats most home made vegetable stock. This product is an America’s Test Kitchen favorite. And is the start of most canned stocks. Do yourself a favor and use it. And rest assured that not even Grissom or Sherlock Holmes can find chicken in this product.

How much

This recipe makes four to five servings. I ate a bowl and filled 4 pint containers with the leftovers.


This recipe requires the following tools.

  • 5 quart Dutch oven for 1 pot simplicity
  • 5 or so 2 cup prep bowls to hold diced vegtables
  • 1 quart prep bowl to hold the sliced potato
  • measuring spoons
  • chef’s knife
  • cutting board

As you can see, it is all basic stuff. If you elect to double the recipe, you will need larger prep bowls and a 7 quart Dutch oven.


I like to list the ingredients in the order they are prepared and added, so here goes.


For this recipe, I went lazy and used a prepared curry seasoning, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op Balti Curry found at Whole Foods. This curry seasoning is a blend of coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin, roasted red chili powder, cinnamon, brown mustard, and a whole bunch of other stuff that will give a complex taste. This goes into the oil while it is being heated to begin the sauté step.

2 to 3 tsp curry seasoning of your choice

Carnivore Option

I’ve not tried this but if I wanted to add a bit of meat flavor without adding a whole lot of beast, I’d add one Chorizo sausage prepared as follows. Skin the sausage and mush it flat on your cutting board. Toss it in the Dutch oven, set the heat on medium high (7.5) and brown. Then pick up with sauteing the vegetables using the rendered sausage fat as a starting point. Add additional olive oil as needed and run with it.

Diced stuff

Prepare these vegetables for sauté by dicing small. Small dice is about pea sized for purposes of this recipe. The idea is that all these ingredients be about the same size as the cooked lentils.

  • olive oil to sauté, enough to cover the pan bottom, usually 1 to 2 ounces
  • 1 red pepper, diced small to give about 1 to 1 1/2 cup of product
  • 1 large onion, diced small to give about 1 1/2 cup of product
  • 2 carrots diced small to give about 1 to 1 1/2 cup of product
  • 4 ribs celery diced small to give about 1 to 1 1/2 cup of product
  • 2 cloves garlic minced

Soup Step Ingredients

I sliced the potato into thin quartered slices for no good reason that that is what I’d seen done in a dehydrated Minestrone soup kit I use from time to time.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon “Chicken” flavor
  • 1 potato quartered length wise and potato crisp sliced into thin slices
  • One can (14 oz) Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup green lentils


I use the following procedure for my soups. First, I gather up all the ingredients and measure out the spices, salt, liquids, etc into prep bowls. I dice up all of the vegetables into prep bowls. Multiple ingredients may go into a prep bowl provided that they are added at the same stage in assembly. For example, all of the vegetables being sautéed can be staged into a mixing bowl or sauce pot. Similarly, the water and Better Than Bouillon may be measured and combined in a 2 quart sauce pan for later addition.

  1. If making the carnivore option, skin, mush, and brown the Chorizo. Scramble it up good.
  2. Next, add the diced vegetables, curry powder, and oil and sauté. I usually start the sauté at medium hot (7.5). Things will get off to a slow start but should start sizzling nicely as the vegetables give up their water. For this recipe, continue the sauté process until the vegetables are soft, the onions are translucent, and volume is reduced about by 1/2 to 2/3. The sauté process concentrates the vegetable flavors. I didn’t elect to caramelize the onions to save time. As the rate or water release drops (sizzle reduces), lower the heat to 5 then to 3 lest you burn the onions. If you have the heat right, there is no standing water in the pan and nothing is burning with a nice sizzling sound and visible steam release. Most recipes blatantly lie about the time required for this step. I play it by ear, literally. The step is done when things get quiet and stay quiet when stirred. The amount of steam coming off is greatly reduced from that observed when things were sizzling vigorously at the start. The vegetables will cover the pan in a shallow layer. I’d guess 15 to 20 minutes to this stage.
  3. Finally, add the water, Better Than Bouillon, tomatoes, and lentils. Bring to a boil at and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. If desired you can add some extra salt but usually, the Better Than Bouillon base provides enough. If too salty, you’ve probably used a heaping measure of BTB. A level tablespoon please.
  4. When done, the lentils will be al dente. Add lemon or lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste at time of serving. I suggest 1 tsp of lemon juice or lime juice per serving as bowled.