Dried beans soakingThis post will get you started cooking your own dried beans. Once you do, you won’t believe how easy it is, how freakin’ delicious they are, or why you didn’t do this years ago. Promise! Bonus for those of you on a low-sodium diet, you can make a flavorful pot of beans with little or no salt at all. While the soaking and cooking take hours, the actual hands-on time is about 15 minutes. So as long as you’re home…

I’ve been cooking beans a long time. And I thought I was pretty good at it. And then I read Tamar Adler’s book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace and realized I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. This doesn’t just make beans. It makes beans, broth, and soup in a whole pot that I now call… [insert drumroll here] Oh-My-God Beany-Brothy Delicious (OMG BBD)

Suitable for:
vegan, gluten-free, low-sodium, migraine, low-tyramine, reduced-sugar diets

Beany brothy deliciousness

How to cook dried beans, a.k.a. Beany-Brothy Deliciousness

My foolproof method for cooking dry beans, plus it makes broth and veggie soup at the same time.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 8 hrs 45 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings


  • 2 cups beans dried (450 g)
  • 3 carrots any size
  • 4 stalks celery (omit for very low-sodium diet)
  • 1 onions white, brown, yellow (omit for migraine diet, or use 1 bunch green onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 potatoes red, optional
  • 1 handful fennel tops only
  • 1 handful thyme (fresh)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp sea salt kosher salt (omit for low-sodium diet)
  • 6 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 8 cups water (filtered or spring)


  • Pour out the dry beans into a shallow bowl, a bunch at a time, and pick through them. Remove any pebbles, sticks, or discolored beans. Some people remove broken beans. I'm not that picky. But yes, I've found pebbles before so don't skip this step. This takes about five minutes.
  • Why, lookee here! What's that random white bean doing in with the dried black garbanzos? And what's up with that teeny tiny funky garbanzo? This is why you sort beans.
    Dried beans
  • Put the sorted beans in a large pot and rinse and swirl with enough water to cover them. I use tap water for this step. Drain completely.
    Dry beans covered in water
  • Use enough filtered water to cover them completely, assuming they will double in size after soaking overnight (8-12 hours).
  • In the morning, rinse and drain the beans. Return them to the cooking pot. The following took me 10 minutes, including walking out to the garden to cut the fennel and thyme. Prep the vegetables and add them to the pot as you go:
  • Scrub the carrots and celery, cut off the tops and bottoms, and cut into three large chunks.
  • Cut off the stem end of the onion, then cut it in half lengthwise through the root end. Peel off the papery skin. If you want onions in with your beans at the end, slice the onion lengthwise. If you want the beans to go off by themselves and have another beany life in a different recipe, quarter the onion. If using spring onions, leave them whole after washing them well and removing any poor leaves.
  • Smash the garlic cloves with the flat blade of your chef's knife. Kapow! Remove the papery skin.
  • Scrub the potatoes, peel if desired, and cut into large chunks or small dice. (If you want potato dice in your beans at the end, dice the potatoes. If you want to be able to fish the pieces out, cut into quarters.) If you don't eat white potatoes, skip them or try a sweet potato or a couple of parsnips. It's all good.
  • Tie the washed fennel fronds and thyme sprigs into a bundle with some clean kitchen twine.
  • Add the bay leaves, salt (if using), olive oil, and filtered water. This is what it looks like with everything in the pot before cooking. Vibrant, soon-to-be-deliciousness!
    Dried Beans before cooking
  • Bring just to a boil with the lid on the pot, then turn down to a simmer (just barely bubbling). Check the beans after 30 minutes. You want them to be nicely tender but not falling apart. If you are going to make baked beans, you want them to still be pretty firm. Depending on the size of the beans, they cook in 30-120 minutes.
  • After an hour or so, once the beans are tender, it looks like this.
    After cooking the beans
  • Once the beans are done, remove the herb bundle and bay leaves and compost them. Fish out the large chunks of veggies with a slotted spoon.
  • Once I've fished out all the chunks, these can turn into lovely puree or soup for two. More deliciousness! (Compost the herb bundle and the bay leaves now.)
  • You can mash those up for a puree, or blend them with some of the Brothy Deliciousness (BD) and make a lovely veggie soup the next day.
  • Drain the extra BD into a container. Use it to make gravy, sweet pea soup, or in place of water to cook rice, quinoa, or millet, for more OMG deliciousness.


Per serving:
  • 117 calories
  • 5 g fat
  • 0 g cholesterol
  • 462 mg sodium (20 mg sodium with salt omitted)
  • 188 mg potassium
  • 17 g carbohydrate
  • 6 g fiber
  • 2 g sugars
  • 5 g protein
  • 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Serve the drained beans as is, or use them in any recipe calling for cooked beans. You can freeze the beans. I freeze them pre-measured in one- or two-cup containers so I can thaw them for a specific recipe.
Non-U.S. readers: Dried beans are sold in one-pound packages in the U.S. You can use 1/2 kilo in this recipe, and it will turn out just fine. For my baked beans, I used small white beans, but navy beans or any kind of small brownish or white bean will work.
Migraine diet: Use with any dried bean except fava, broad, lima, or navy bean.
Very low-sodium diet: Omit the celery.