Have you ever wondered which words or phrases you use the most often when you speak or write? I’m pretty sure that comfort food is a phrase I use often. I love the classics. I love cozy stew.
Here’s one such recipe, born from my heart, an old favorite– duly updated to be more digestible– as well as being delicious!
This recipe also reflects our family’s health. We keep getting better and healthier, 98% healed?, and are, therefore, now enjoying the creamy goodness of legumes!
White beans, specifically, are the gentlest of all beans, the easiest to digest. So White Bean Chicken Chili was a natural first-legume recipe to try out on our bodies. We all loved it. (There’s even a dairy-free version.)
CROCK POT for COOKING BEANS
The crock pot/slow cooker is not only a tool of convenience. It is this primarily, yes, and I am SO grateful for the freedom it adds to my kitchen. But when it comes to beans, it is also a tool of precision. Steady, low heat, it turns out, is vital for creating soft, digestible beans.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has done extensive research on the proper way to soak and cook beans. I loved reading about the history of enigmatic legumes and how researchers and native peoples have cracked the nut, so to speak, on removing oligosaccharides from beans. They say about bean cooking temperature, “It is important to avoid boiling beans since this will coagulate their vegetable protein and result in permanently hard, unpalatable beans.”
They’ve dialed in every nuance to help us avoid beans that will give us gas or beans that won’t cook to their proper softness.
I’m going to share those tips here, so we all get cozy, perfect chili.
INSTANT POT for COOKING BEANS
The Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) safely cooks beans, and quickly. To adjust this recipe for your pressure cooker, simply soak rinsed beans (see quantity below in recipe) in plain water overnight in plenty of water. Rinse again in the morning. Place beans into insert with ingredients from Step 3 in recipe below, and use the easy “Bean/Chili” button. Adjust the time to 45 minutes. When the chili is done cooking, allow the pressure to release naturally for 1 hour before covering the steam release opening with a dish towel (as an added safety precaution) and releasing any remaining steam. Press the “Cancel” button and open the lid. Resume recipe with Step 4.
TIPS WHEN COOKING BEANS for OPTIMUM DIGESTION
First, as a bit of a backdrop, here’s why beans are so hard to digest:
The harder beans, such as kidney beans, black beans or navy beans, require more careful treatment, as they contain certain oligosaccharides (large, complex sugars) that can completely confound digestion. Mammals do not produce the enzyme alpha-galactosidase in their digestive tracts, which is necessary to break down these sugars. When consumed, these oligosaccharides reach the lower intestine largely intact, and in the presence of anaerobic bacteria ferment and produce carbon dioxide and methane gases, as well as a good deal of discomfort… (source)
Here are some general guidelines for cooking beans:
- To the briefly simmered soak water (see recipe below) add a 6″ (or greater) piece of kombu seaweed. It will not add a fishy flavor but helps to alkalinize the water, breaking down oligosaccharides, adding minerals, elements and B vitamins, as well as adding a hearty umami (savory meat) flavor. Kombu can also be used during the beans’ cooking stage. If so, it will melt into the stew and become an added aid for digestion. (How magical!)
- To increase phytate degradation, (read more on phytates here), soaking beans overnight is a must.
- Adding just a pinch of baking soda to the soaking and/or cooking water helps to create a soft bean.
- Many sources, even reputable ones, suggest soaking beans in an acid medium overnight. While there are 2-3 varieties of beans that benefit from this, aciduated soaking water renders white beans hard. Use plain water for soaking overnight.
I hope you enjoy this classic. I have a few variations below, depending on how fast and easy you need the recipe to be, as well as your dietary restrictions. Overall, it has a super quick prep time and is no-fuss and yet has many layers of flavor, creaminess– and scores high on the perfection meter! 😉