first off, dry beans are finicky beasts, you can't add any salt or
salty products into the cooking until after they're tender or you'll
never get them to soften up. There's a complex chemical explanation for
this involving the properties of sodium ions which is too deadly boring
to explain, just take my word for it. The night before you want
to make this, pour the dry beans into a colander and wash them
thoroughly, pick out any clinkers or rocks you find, then pour the
washed beans into a large bowl or Tupperware container and cover with
water. If you're familiar with hot soaking beans, you can skip this
step and do as you usually might.
NEXT DAY: Discard the
soak water, fill up a good sized pot with the soaked beans and water
(you should have enough room over the beans so that you can cover the
beans with 2 inches of water), bring to a slow boil stirring every few
minutes, add garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, green pepper, and the
bay leaf (leave this leaf whole -- you'll want to pull it out of the pot
Reduce the heat and cover, simmer for about two
(2) hours or until the beans mash easily with only slight pressure. If
they've got any fight left in them, keep on cooking. If it takes four
hours, it takes four hours, you can't make it any faster. It's normal
for some of the beans to break down entirely, this is desired and helps
thicken the soup, so don't freak if the beans go all mushy.
the beans cook, you'll need to replenish the water or they'll burn.
This is where you start adding the chicken broth if you've got it, if
not just use plain water and cheat AFTER THE BEANS ARE SOFT by adding
two chicken bullion cubes or in desperate situations a chicken ramen
season packet (but only one of those bad boys or you'll be gagging on
Here is where you taste the soup and figure out if you
want to add pepper or cayenne pepper, it won't take much. Adding a
teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce will give it some zip if it tastes a
little flat, adding the bacon grease or oil will make the soup richer
and more savory, just be sure to stir it in well.