So, unfortunately, I'm not the bean queen...but fortunately, my mother is. All growing up my mother made lots and lots of delicious kinds of beans from Split Pea Soup to Black Beans to Cajun Red Beans and Rice to Ham and 12 Bean Soup.
So, the other day I decided to make her Ham and 12 Bean Soup. Here's the bean making process (and notes and tips from my mom along the way):
Soak the beans in plenty of water for 8-12 hours, usually over night. I say plenty of water because dry beans more than double in size after soaking in water. By the way, there are 12 different kinds of beans in this mix: black, red, split peas, lima, black eyed peas, pinto, white, navy, garbanzo, chick peas...and 2 others. You don't have to worry too much about which beans are in there because you can buy them already in a 12 bean mix.
Rinse beans very thoroughly and then put in a heavy duty pot or a crock pot and cover beans with water. Add seasonings like garlic powder and onion powder and/or actual diced onion and minced garlic.
Bring beans to a boil quickly and then decrease heat, but keep it hot enough that the beans keep boiling. Boil beans for about 4 hours stirring occasionally with a lid on the pot. Test the beans to see if they are soft.
Start to cook uncovered, add ham and ham bone (my favorite time to make this soup is when we have purchased a bone-in spiral cut ham then we eat that for dinner, take off the extra already cut ham for sandwiches, then save the bone and the ham that is still on it to make this soup) and let it simmer for a little while (like an hour maybe). Take out the ham and ham bone. Discard bone and any other undesirable parts. Then break up the good ham into smaller pieces and add it back to the beans. Then add salt and pepper. Continue cooking and allow all of the seasonings to come together and the water to cook off so that the beans thicken.
You never want to add cured ham or salt too early in the process (wait until the beans are soft) because otherwise it will make your beans tough. Also, add water as needed throughout the process so that the beans don't dry up. One great thing about this recipe is it can make a ton of bean soup and it freezes really well which is a nice bonus...food storage!
A final note from my mom: "Jessie hit the 3 keys to good beans right on... but just to reemphasize I'll say: 1) after your beans have soaked overnight, RINSE THEM THOROUGHLY, 2) keep your beans at a ROLLING BOIL until they are soft (this will mean adding water as needed), and 3) don't add salt or tomato products until the beans are soft. Enjoy!"