Cooking Beans, the Quick-Soak Way

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

TIME: 2 hours to soak, plus 30 minutes to 2 hours to cook, largely unattended

The recommended method and the easiest way to cook beans because for most of the time they aren’t cooking at all; they’re soaking. Incredibly, if you start a pot of dried beans from scratch without soaking and start another pot following this method, both will be ready at about the same time, with no difference in taste or texture. What changes is that with the presoaking method you don’t have to check as much or add water as often.

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 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a boil and boil the beans, uncovered, for about 2 minutes. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the beans soak for about 2 hours.

Taste a bean. If it’s tender (it won’t be 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 the soaking water. (If not, add a little water.) If the beans are still raw, don’t add salt yet and cover with about 2 inches of water.

Bring the pot 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 or 15 minutes, 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 use immediately or store.