:: fluxmonkey loves beans ::

bean soup recipes, w/ a nod to Alison Knowles... "The US bean crop would make enough bean soup to run Niagara Falls for three hours..."

there's almost always a pot of bean soup at the monkeyhouse. sunday is traditional soup cookin' day—boil up a big vat and the monkeys have sustenance all week. beans, some good bread, a little salad—that's good eatin, and good protein for vegetarian monkeyfolk. there's one general method and endless variations—improv is usual, but some have been refined over time so they're almost "recipes." here ya go:

bean soup
general method

  • boil 1 lb. dried Bean w/ 2 bay leaves in 6-8 cups water until tender but not mushy
  • cut up vegetables— 3 each: onions, carrots, celery stalks, garlic cloves
  • sauté vegetables in 1 tbs. oil until onion is translucent
  • add herbs to vegetables: 1 tsp. @ marjoram, thyme (or your choice)
  • immediately add boiled beans to vegetables, plus a couple bouillon cubes, and tomato product if called for
  • add more water if necessary for desired consistency, reduce to simmer for additional 1/2 hour.
  • add salt, pepper, hot sauce to taste
  • ummm.


  • bean-boiling times, approx:
    • lentils, split peas, adzuki: 1/2-1 hr
    • pinto, kidney, navy, great northern: 1-11/2 hrs
    • garbanzo, soy, black beans: 2 hrs. or more
  • you can pre-soak your beans: add beans to water, bring to a boil and then turn off, let soak for a couple hours— then change the water and continue cooking. speeds cooking, and some say it helps get rid flatulence.
  • don't add salt until the very end if you want your beans to break down and thicken the broth; add some at the beginning of cooking if you want your beans to stay whole.
  • think about what size to cut your vegetables: small so they disappear into the soup, or chunky-stew sized so there's big bites on the spoon.
  • other vegetables to consider: potato, parsnip, squash, leek, celeriac, spinach. generally avoid cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli)—they can turn bitter when cooked.
  • other herb/spice possibilities: rosemary, basil, tarragon, cumin, old bay seasoning.
  • boil the beans in one pot; sauté the vegetables in another big soup pot, then add the beans to the vegetables to soak up all the sauté flavor goodness. a nice thick-walled pot is good for sautéing, and to keep the final soup from burning—we use an old cast-iron dutch oven.

green pea
fresh peas at the end lighten things up.

  • follow the general recipe: 1 lb. split peas, 6-8 cups water, a couple of bay leaves.
  • split peas will decompose into a puree in about 30-45 minutes. they'll kind of "dissolve" suddenly and absorb most of the water—careful not to let them burn, add more water if necessary.
  • vegetables: 2 medium onions and 3 celery stalks, and a couple cloves of garlic—this is a delicate soup, so cut them up small. sauté in light oil (canola, sunflower).
  • vegetable seasoning: 1 tsp. thyme and one tsp. dry mustard.
  • add the split peas and 2 bouillon cubes to the vegetables— careful, they'll spatter. if too thick, add more water, or a splash of white wine.
  • simmer for 1/2 hour, watch for signs of burning and add liquid as needed.
  • 5 minutes before the end, add 1 cup thawed frozen peas.
  • add salt & pepper to taste.
  • ummm...

greek style, I think.

  • 1 lb. lentils, 2 bay leaves, 6-8 cups, boil for about 30 minutes. don't overcook them (lentils should still be intact).
  • vegetables: medium dice 2 large onions, 2 celery stalks, and 2 good-sized carrots. a couple garlic cloves couldn't hurt.
  • sauté vegetables in 1 tbs. olive oil—first the onions and celery, then the carrots and garlic. the onion should be translucent, but the carrots should still have some bite left in 'em.
  • vegetable seasoning: 2 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. thyme and 1 tsp. dry mustard.
  • add the cooked lentils to the vegetables with 1/2 small can of tomato paste, and 2 bouillon cubes. you'll be tempted to add the rest of the tomato paste—don't do it!—throw it into some spaghetti sauce or something. if soup is too thick, add a little more water.
  • simmer for 1/2 hour, watch for signs of burning and add liquid as needed.
  • 5 minutes before the end, add 1-2 tbs. red wine vinegar.
  • salt & pepper to taste.

vegetarian chili w/ squash & bulghur. this makes a pretty big batch; invite friends over, or halve the quantities.

  • boil 1 lb. pinto beans w/ 2 bay leaves in 8-10 cups water for 1 hour.
  • vegetables: 3 medium onions, 4 celery stalks, and 1/2 a butternut squash (peeled)— leave the vegetables in pretty goodsized chunks. mince 3-6 garlic cloves and 2-6 chili peppers—leave the seeds in the peppers if you like it hot. sauté in 1-2 tbs. oil.
  • vegetable seasoning: 3 tsp. chili powder, 2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and one tsp. dry mustard. sauté/ with the vegetables for a bit, then add 2 tsp. oregano—herbs don't hold up as well to the higher temperature of hot oil.
  • take 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, drain the liquid into the beans, and then chop the tomatoes—or, use canned "tomatoes for chili", or diced tomato.
  • add the beans, tomatoes and 2 bouillon cubes to the seasoned vegetables. if too thick, add more water.
  • reduce to simmer for 3/4 hour, watch for signs of burning and add liquid as needed.
  • add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bulghur (it won't seem like much, but it expands a lot). continue to simmer for about 1/2 hour, watch carefully for burning as the bulghur soaks up liquid. thin as necessary.
  • add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. serve w/ chips and sour cream.

white and creamy, potatoes for thickness, and nutmeg is an unexpected surprise.

  • boil 1 lb. navy beans and a couple bay leaves in 8-10 cups water for at least an hour, until the beans don't taste raw. they can be stubborn and take a while to soften up.
  • vegetables, pt. one: 2 medium onions, 4 celery stalks with leaves, 3 carrots. dice the onions & celery fine, and the carrots quartered lengthwise and then cubed. sauté in oil (or butter) until the onions are transparent and starting to get sweet.
  • vegetable seasoning: 1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning if you have it; 1 tsp. thyme, 1/8 to 1/2 tsp nutmeg. add seasoning to the vegetables, let cook for a minute, then add the cooked beans and cooking water.
  • vegetable, pt. two: cube 2 or 3 medium potatoes. in a separate pan, cover with water and boil until soft. mash the spuds with a little of their cooking water, get all the lumps out, thin is ok.
  • stir the mashed potato mix into the soup, and a couple of bullion cubes. simmer for a half hour.
  • add salt to taste, and plenty of good black pepper.
  • variation: throw in some chopped greens (chard is my fave, or spinach) when you add the potatoes... yum.

dal—indian yellow split pea
a staple of indian cuisine, dal is the generic word for legume. asain import stores have many lots of types of dal: urad (black lentils), masoor (pink lentils), moong (split or whole mung beans), chanaa (chick peas); and they're all quite distinct. import stores are also a great place to buy bulk spices, as well as specialty items like garam masala.

  • wash and rinse one pound of yellow split peas in several changes of water, until the water runs clear. put in a pot with 8 cups water and 1 tsp. ground turmeric and bring to a boil. peas may initially foam up; you can skim the foam off and turn down to a slow boil to keep it from overflowing. cook for about 45 minutes until peas are very soft, then whisk the mixture to break down the peas further.
  • in a separate heavy-bottomed pan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil or ghee (clarified butter). add seasoning vegetables:
    • ginger: peel and mince a piece the size of your thumb, about 2 tbs.
    • garlic: 2-4 cloves, finely minced
    • hot peppers: 2-4, or more to taste. i use "finger hots", or habaneras... jalapenos don't do it for me. remove the seeds and inner membranes to keep the heat moderate—it's easier to add heat later than to take it out.
  • sauté for 5 minutes over moderately high heat, stirring to keep from burning.
  • add spices to vegitables: 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cayenne. continue to fry for a couple minutes, then add cooked beans. watch out for spattering.
  • simmer for another half-hour to let flavors meld. after 15 minutes, sprinkle in 1-2 tsp garam masala and 1 tbs. lemon juice, stir. add water as necessary, beans should be completely broken down into a sauce-like texture.
  • add salt to taste, serve with rice or flatbread, and yogurt.

cuban black bean
beans + rice. viva la revolución!

  • boil 1 lb. black beans 10 cups water for an hour, drain and rinse (they should be partially cooked).
  • refresh with 8 cups fresh water, 2 bay leaves, a couple of bullion cubes, and return to a gentle simmer. the salt in the bullion cubes will help the beans and rice stay whole when cooked.
  • vegetables: 3 medium onions, 1 green pepper, 4 celery stalks, 3 carrots, 2-4 cloves garlic, 2 hot peppers-leave the seeds in the peppers if you like it hot. chop vegetable medium fine, sauté in 1-2 tbs. oil for about 10 minutes.
  • vegetable seasoning: 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp. dry mustard. sauté/ with the vegetables for a bit, then add 1 tsp. thyme.
  • combine beans and 1 can of diced tomatoes (with liquid) with the sautéed vegetables. add 1 cup uncooked brown or white rice and return to boil.
  • reduce to simmer for 3/4 hour, watch for signs of burning and add liquid as needed.
  • season with salt, pepper, and lots of hot sauce. good w/ sour cream.