Why You Should Soak Your Beans Before Cooking - Chef Cynthia Louise
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Who can’t eat legumes and pulses?? I know heaps of humans that can’t eat them. There is a reason for this and it’s partly why you should soak your beans before cooking.

A very close friend of mine, Courtney, can’t have black beans.  She can have hummus but not a chickpea curry.  If she does, well, look out.  Courtney experiences two main issues when eating black beans from a Mexican burrito.  One is that she is in massive amounts of pain and her tummy swells, and the other, well… she farts and it smells. #truth here…

…So let’s just hang out and share some real ‘isms’ that go on with eating beans…

One thing I noticed about Courtney is that she can eat black eyed beans. Mmmmmm I wonder why??

Isn’t it interesting that she can have hummus and not a chickpea curry when both dishes are made from chickpeas???

Is it easier for us women to just avoid legumes and pulses because of many digestive issues we experience??

It is actually interesting that we feel this kind of digestive problems because legumes are full of fibre and are supposed to help in digestion. My vegetarian and vegan friends love legumes because they are a good source of protein for them. Soaking your beans will help eliminate these digestive issues in most people.

So, if you are thinking of starting off some no-meat challenge, legumes are a way to go to make up for those proteins, and this is what I want to help Courtney and YOU – I want you to incorporate these incredible isms into your world.

A Chef’s Reason To Soak Beans Before You Cook ‘em?

Legumes usually take a lot of time to cook, so besides those digestive problems, it’s another reason why people avoid them. It is much easier to buy a can or two of ready-made beans. But if you prepare beans on your own, it will do good for your health because there won’t be any additives, sugars, and that canned, tinny kind of smell and flavour.

Well, that’s what I reckon anyway.

An added bonus is that dry beans are inexpensive compared to canned, store bought ones. And Soaking your beans will help speed up the cooking time.

The Big Question: How to Cook Beans?

Over the years, I have discovered two great tips on cooking legumes, both taught to me by two different women.

I got the first tip from a very lovely lady in her 70s. She told me to “soak the beans in Bicarb Soda (Baking Soda)” … Use about a teaspoon for every 2 litres of water… OK

The second tip is to soak the beans for at least 3 days changing the water 4 times a day… OK

After soaking your lovely dried beans, this is what I love to add to ANY of ‘em….

  • 1 Onion, chopped into quarters
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, smashed
  • Salt, to taste
  • A dash of Pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf

I add this all to a pot along with the legumes and cook them until the desired doneness. And because you have pre-soaked them the cooking time is much much less.

Ahhhh…. Cooking The Humble Chickpea

One of the legumes I love the most is chickpeas, as they are very versatile. You can use them in soups, curries, salads, hummus, and even make chickpea patties. These should be soaked for at least 2 days. For 2 cups of chickpeas, I use up to 1.5 litres of filtered water for soaking and change the water at least 3 times a day.

I cook them in at least 2 litres of water along with;

  • a quartered onion,
  • 2 smashed garlic cloves,
  • one bay leaf,
  • salt to taste,
  • and a sprinkle of pepper.  

All this adds so much flavour to the chickpeas, as they soak it all up when cooking. Bring them to the boil and then let simmer for a good hour or until completely soft. Once they are done, allow them to cool completely in the water and then store them in the fridge with the cooking water or freeze them on their own.

What about Lentils?

Another type of my favourite legumes is lentils. When I prepare some red or brown lentil recipes, no matter what kind of lentils I use, I don’t soak them because they are tiny.

As for the cooking time, I just follow the recipes I decide to make, and guys, don’t forget to add the above flavours to your lentils. These little legumes just soak up all that onion, garlic, and bay leaf flavours.

If you go through My filmed Online Cooking Class Series called ‘Wholefood Love’ , you’ll find some recipes there that call for different types of beans, but don’t be afraid of them. I encourage you to start playing with legumes. You can try one type, maybe lentils because these are tiny and don’t need soaking. Then when you feel comfortable and master a dish or two with lentils, you can try other legumes.

Don’t be afraid of legumes. I believe they have an important place to play in our diets at home. They are freezer-friendly too not only after they are cooked but also if you soak them as well. Try it. Don’t forget the tips I learnt from the elders in my life on how to soak and cook legumes and pulses.

Let me know how your recipes turned out.  Share the pics on social media with me too.

Chef xx


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About the Author

Chef Cynthia Louise is an Internationally acclaimed MasterChef, speaker, author, restaurant consultant, teacher and television presenter in wholefood, dairy-free cooking. She also has the worlds first online cooking classes focused on dairy-free plant-based whole foods with recipes that people are raving about and changing people's health, one delicious bite at a time. Chef Cynthia loves nothing more than educating people about the simplicity and vitality of a plant-based, whole foods lifestyle. Each dish is like art on a plate and her flavour combinations nourish the soul and get everyone talking.