Cooking Beans, the Long-Soak Way

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

TIME: Up to 12 hours to soak, plus 30 minutes to 2 hours to cook, almost completely unattended

Many recipes instruct you to soak beans overnight before cooking. But that means they could be soaking for up to 24 hours before you start making dinner, which often leaves you with a mushy, bland pot of beans. To me, a long soak is 8 to 12 hours. Conveniently, this is about the length of the average workday: You set them up in the morning and cook them when you get home. Easy, assuming you have enough time to let them simmer. There is a downside, however: The beans absorb so much liquid during soaking that once you start cooking them, they turn from tender to mushy rather fast. Bottom line: Very convenient and fast, but you gotta watch вem on the stove.

1 pound any dried beans, split peas, or peeled and split beans, washed and picked over

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the beans in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid and cover with cold water by several inches. Let them soak for 8 to 12 hours.

Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Check a bean for doneness. If it’s tender but not yet done, add a large pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper and make sure the beans are covered with about an inch of water. If the beans are still raw, don’t add salt yet and cover with about 2 inches of water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the beans bubble gently. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, checking the beans for doneness every 10 minutes or so, and adding a little more water if necessary. If you haven’t added salt yet, add it when the beans are just turning tender. Stop cooking when the beans are done the way you like them, taste and adjust the seasoning, and either use immediately or store.