I recently started cooking with the grass-fed Montana beef we got stocked in the freezer this Fall from the yearling that my husband’s rancher friend butchered for us. The first thing I wanted to cook up with it was a big pot of Chili, and while I was at it I managed to make a pot of Beef Stock too. It all turned out so good, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of hot, homemade, heartwarming soup or stew, with a little bread to go with it this time of year.
Since the ground beef and stock was as local and all-natural as I can get it, I decided to soak my beans to keep it healthy and nourishing. I used kidney beans and black beans, covered them with warm water and a little lemon juice in a large bowl to soak overnight, then after 15 hours of soaking they were drained and rinsed, then covered with water in a pot and simmered for about three hours.
With the help of my cousin over at Born in the Wrong Century, reading this blog post over at Nourished Kitchen, and my Nourishing Traditions cookbook, I have recently learned a little about the benefits of soaking beans, grains, and legumes before cooking them. Basically soaking is an old traditional method of preparing and cooking these items and it enhances the nourishment and nutrient value in them by reducing the effects of the anti-nutrients, the phytates and enzyme inhibitors, which keep the minerals from being absorbed by your body.
This preparation neutralizes the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and breaks down the difficult-to-digest complex sugars. This then allows them to be completely digestible and the essential minerals and nutrients to be well assimilated and absorbed. I can definitely tell a difference when I eat Chili made with soaked beans (vs canned), there is almost no problem with gas or bloating, no need for Bean-o!! And the taste and texture is so much better. If you’re wanting to learn more about soaking, the links above are a good place to start.
::Basic Soaked Chili Beans::
1 c. kidney beans
1 c. black beans
1 c. pinto beans
3 T. fresh lemon juice
Place dry beans in a large bowl and cover with warm water, add in the lemon juice. Set aside in a warm place for 12-16 hours. Drain out the soaking water, rinse, pour beans back into pot and cover with water, and add in optional spices: 3 T chili powder, 1 T garlic powder, 2 T kosher salt, 1 T black pepper. Bring to a boil, skim off foam, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2-4 hours, adding water as necessary to keep beans covered. Cook until they’re tender but still a little firm… al dente.
::Beef and Bean Chili::
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, halved or quartered and sliced
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
2 t. chili powder
1-2 t. dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
1 t. salt
2-3 T tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can crushed (unseasoned) tomatoes and the juices (or 4 big organic garden tomatoes, pureed in food processor)
1 (28 oz) can diced (unseasoned) tomatoes and juices
6-8 c. combination of kidney, black, and pinto beans, soaked, drained, simmered, drained
3-ish quarts beef stock, or as needed to get desired consistency
Heat about 4 T olive oil in bottom of a large soup pot, when hot add in onion and saute until translucent, about 5-7 min. Add in garlic, cook 2-3 min., sprinkle in salt and pepper, add carrots and saute another 5 min. stirring often. Add ground burger and cook until browned, meanwhile adding in the chili powder, oregano, red pepper flakes. Stir in tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes along with their juices. Stir and then add in enough soaked beans and beef stock to get desired consistency. Let simmer 1-2 hours, salt and pepper to taste.
Well that’s about what I did, when I make big pots of soup I just throw it all in as I go, cooking up all the layers of flavors. So these are not my exact* measurements, but very close. We just got done eating this Chili for the last four nights, and I’m telling you, no gas/indigestion/bloating problems at all! It’s a very flavorful, comforting, old fashioned Chili. If you’ve never got into the habit of soaking your beans before cooking with them, I hope you are inspired to try it out! It takes some thinking ahead, but really is quite simple to toss them in a bowl covered with water and lemon juice in the evening and let them set until you cook ’em up the next day. I also like to soak black beans overnight, simmer the next day, then keep them in the fridge to use for burritos and yummy mexican dinners for the week.
I wanted to also share my first Beef Stock experience, but that will have to wait until next time. =)