Saturday, February 19, 2011
As we've reported almost ad nauseum, we cook a lot of beans—black, white, pinto, chickpeas—and eat a lot of lentils. This results in a great deal of rich cooking liquid that we use to boost the flavor of soups and stews. Last week we made a pot of vegetable soup, adding a quart of frozen black-bean cooking liquid; the soup ended up with a velvety richness it would not otherwise have had. Lentil liquid would have been even more velvety.
If you find yourselves with a few cups of leftover bean or lentil cooking liquid, freeze it for later use; if you aren't cooking soup, add it to your homemade stock. You'll be glad that you made the effort.
TWO IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER: Although the cooking liquid from beans is wonderful, don't confuse it with the soaking liquid you use to soften the beans before you cook them. That liquid should be discarded and replaced with fresh water before cooking. If you don't, you'll end up with an indigestible bunch of beans and a nasty batch of cooking liquid.
Also, this tip should only be used with homemade beans. Don't use that slimy goo that comes with canned beans; although canned beans are great in a pinch, the liquid they come with is full of salt and God knows what else.