Some beans can be found both fresh and dry. Fresh beans are generally sold in their pod. Store fresh beans in a tightly covered container in the fridge up to five days. After that, both color and flavor diminish. Dried beans are available pre-packaged or in bulk, and should be soaked in water for several hours to rehydrate them before cooking.

Then they need to be checked for infestation. (See below for instructions.)

Instead of using boiling water you may soak the beans in cold water for eight hours, although boiling water is more effective. Regarding dark beans (red or black), since the skin doesn't become translucent after soaking, the beans should be soaked and then peeled.


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Minestrone With Pesto

  • 3 tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cups low-salt pareve [non-meat] chicken broth
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cubed
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 –inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 small zucchinis, cubed
  • 15 oz. package white kidney beans
  • 2 tomatoes, cubed
  • 6 tbsps. Classic Pesto (for Pesto recipe see Chef's Secret: Basil: Herb & Spice Series #1)


Heat broth in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, green beans, zucchini, white beans and tomatoes. Increase heat to high and bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pot, and simmer about 10 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into 6 bowls. Garnish each with 1 tbsp. pesto.

Makes 6 servings.

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Black Bean Soup

This recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less. Top with chopped cilantro.

  • 2 tbsps. olive oil
  • 11/4 cups chopped onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or 11/2 tsps. dried
  • 3 15-oz. cans of black beans, drained, 1 cup liquid reserved.
  • 2 141/2 oz. cans of low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 tbsps. ground cumin
  • 11/2 tsps. hot pepper sauce

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and thyme; saute until onion is golden, about 8 minutes. Add beans, reserved 1 cup bean liquid, broth, tomatoes with juices, cumin and hot pepper sauce. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and soup thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls.

Makes 6 servings.

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What and Bean Soup

  • 1 cup dried beans (your choice)
  • 3 tbsps. olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 cup whole grain wheat
  • 21/2 tsps. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper

Rinse beans. Soak in cold water to cover by 2 inches overnight.

Heat oil in a heavy pot (5-6 qt.). Saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic until soft. Add water, beans, tomato, parsley, sage and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are soft, 2-3 hours. Add wheat and salt. Reduce heat, simmer until wheat is tender, about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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Spicy Black Bean Soup

  • 2 tbsps. olive oil
  • 11/2 cups chopped red onion
  • 4 ozs. diced mild chilies
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped jalapeno chili with seeds
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3-5 oz. can black beans
  • 2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 8 tbsps. chopped fresh cilantro
  • Tortilla chips

In a heavy large pot over medium-high heat, add all ingredients except for 2 tbsps. cilantro and tortilla chips. Add beans with juices and broth. Bring suop to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with tortilla chips. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsps. cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

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White Bean Soup

  • 2 cups dried Great Northern beans
  • 3 tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 large tomato, seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 101/2 cups (or more) pareve [non-meat] chicken stock or canned low-salt pareve chicken-flavored broth
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Place beans in large heavy pot. Add enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Drain beans. Check for infestation.

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, leek, tomato, carrots, celery and garlic cloves. Saute until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add beans, 101/2 cups pareve chicken stock, chopped thyme and rosemary. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until beans are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

Add more chicken stock by 1/4 cupfuls to thin soup, if desired. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into 8 bowls.

Makes 8 first-course servings.

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Stone Soup

  • 8 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
  • 1 lb. hot dogs diced
  • 1 151/4 oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 1 141/2 oz. can diced ready-cut tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium head cabbage, coarsely chopped (about 41/2 cups)
  • 1 lb. turnips, peeled, diced
  • 2 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients in large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce and simmer until soup is thick, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 8 servings.

Checking for Bugs in Beans

Here's how to do it (based on classes by Rabbi Moshe Vaye):

The insects are found beneath the skin and are not detectable when the bean is dry.

  1. Bring the beans to a boil in 2-3 times their volume of water.
  2. Turn off the flame and leave covered for 2 hours.
  3. Place a handful of beans on your palm, check one side, turn over onto the other hand and check the second side. A dark stain under the peel is a suspicious sign. With a little experience, one can tell which stain is the result of insect activity and which is just a natural growth blemish. In case of doubt, take off the peel and check underneath for a worm.
  4. If three beans have worms or typical round holes, according to many rabbis, all the beans in that batch should be peeled, halved and checked inside. It's best to always halve a few as a spot check, since there are sometimes moth larvae in the center.