How to Soak Beans for Chili

One of the great parts about making a big pot of chili is all the experimentation you can undertake with the chili recipe. Unusual vegetables or turkey instead of beef? Your recipe is limited only by your imagination.

Soak kidney beans ready for making chili. Credit: martinrlee/iStock/GettyImages

If you decide to go the route of a vegetarian chili recipe, or you just want to make chili with the emphasis on the beans, you need to make sure you're preparing those beans correctly. Opt to use dried beans and follow these steps to ensure they have the best taste and texture possible.

Read more: What Pulses Are and Why You Should Be Eating Them

Soaking the Beans for Chili

Mayo Clinic says that if you're working with dried beans, you need to start by picking through the beans to remove any shriveled or discolored beans, bits of dirt or any other unwanted particles you shouldn't be eating. Then do a good rinse of the beans.

After you've picked out all the inedible bits and done a thorough rinse, you can get around to soaking those beans for your chili recipe. Soaking the beans for chili is an important step because, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, this will allow them to take on water and break down the starches that would otherwise upset your stomach.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers three different ways to soak beans. You can do a hot soak, a quick soak or an overnight soak. Before you start, you want to select a pot that's large enough for the beans you're preparing.

The beans will triple in size, so you need a pot that's much bigger than the volume of the dry beans you're starting with. No matter which method you choose, you will need 10 cups of water per 1 pound of dry beans (about 2 and 1/4 cups).

For a hot soak, which will help reduce intestinal gas, add the water and beans to a pot and bring to a boil for two to three minutes. Remove from the stovetop and cover for four hours while the beans soak up the water.

To undertake a quick soak, follow the same steps, but let them sit for only one hour. The third option is an overnight soak, which requires no boiling on the stovetop. Instead, add the beans and water to a pot and let it sit for at least eight hours.

Drain and rinse the beans after they have finished soaking. They are now ready to be cooked, so put them back in the pot, cover with fresh water, and allow them to simmer until they are tender (about a half-hour to two hours).

Giving beans a pre-cooking soak is the traditional method of preparation, but you don't necessarily have to take that route. The U.S. Dry Bean Council recommends giving beans a quick rinse, then putting them in a pot and adding enough water to cover them.

Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover the pot and allow the beans to simmer until tender. You may need to add more water while they simmer.

Three-Bean Chili for Vegetarians

Once you've mastered soaking the beans for chili and cooking them to perfection, you will want to find a chili recipe that showcases them. You can make a great three-bean chili for vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike. The best part? Every three-bean chili seems to use a different combination of beans, so you will get exposed to a wide variety.

  • This vegan three-bean and beer chili uses chili beans, calypso beans and black-eyed peas, along with a variety of vegetables like eggplant and mushroom.
  • This healthy vegetarian quinoa chili calls for black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans, and this is an especially good three-bean chili for vegetarians because it has quinoa, a complete protein source.

Read more: 12 Slimming Soups

Soak those beans well and have fun experimenting with all the options you have! A three-bean chili for vegetarians can be as adventurous as it is nutritious and delicious. You'll soon be creating your own original combinations you will want to share with friends and family.

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