Here’s a fun food fact– bean soup has been on the U.S. Senate menu every day for over 100 years! According to the Senate website, “Bean soup is on the menu in the Senate’s restaurant every day. There are several stories about the origin of that mandate, but none has been corroborated.”
Beyond this fun tradition, beans are considered a great plant-based protein source. They contain similar amounts of protein as meats. They also contain fiber, which keeps a feeling of fullness for longer, lowers blood sugar levels, and promotes digestion.
Dry beans expand when they cook, which is something to bear in mind when planning and preparing. The versatility of this member of the legume family makes beans an easy addition to soups, stews, dips, salsa, salads and more.
Before cooking, dry beans must be washed and soaked. The easiest soaking method is to place the beans in a large pot, add enough water to cover the beans, and soak overnight or at least for 8 hours. Once soaked, drain the beans and rinse with cold water. Canned beans are ready for immediate use.
Storing beans is easy. Unopened dry and canned beans should be stored at room temperature. Cooked beans and unused canned beans should be stored in a new container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
It’s estimated that there are well over 400 different types or varieties of dry beans grown throughout the world. When deciding between canned beans or dry beans, consider your lifestyle and the prep time for use. Some recipes may call for specific beans due to textures, flavor, or even color.
“Cha Cha” Chili
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium, then add bell pepper and onions. Cook until soft.
2. Add cumin and chili powder. Cook about one minute.
3. Add beans, corn, crushed tomatoes, and water. Reduce heat to low.
4. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.
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