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    January 2009

    Cooking With Dry Beans

    Dry beans are a nutritious and inexpensive food.  Commonly available dry beans are pinto, kidney and lima beans.  Dry beans are a great source of fiber, folic acid, iron and protein. They are also very low in fat and sodium.  To get the most protein from the beans, serve them along with grain foods such as corn, rice or wheat.  A serving size of cooked dry beans is 1/2 cup.



       How to Store Them

    Store dry beans in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place. For best results, use them within one year of receiving them.  Cooked beans can either be frozen or refrigerated.  Freeze cooked beans in a shallow (no more than three inches deep) airtight container and use them within six months.  Cooked beans stored in the refrigerator should also be stored in a shallow covered container. This helps the beans to cool more quickly and safely.

    Use them within four to five days.  Store cooked beans within two hours of preparation. Never place a large pot of cooked beans in the refrigerator or freezer. They may not cool fast enough to prevent someone from getting sick.



    Pinto Bean Soup with Fresh Salsa (6 servings)

    • 1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans 
    • 7 cups water
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 yellow onions, diced
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
    • 1 cup diced ham, if desired

    For Salsa:

    • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
    • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • Salt and ground black pepper
    • Jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
    • Sour cream  

    Wash your hands; Sort out any broken beans, pebbles or other objects that might be present.  Rinse well.  Place the beans in a saucepan and add the water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the smallest bean is cooked through and creamy inside, about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from the heat and set aside.


    In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm vegetable oil.  Add the onions, salt and black pepper and sauté until onions are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes longer.  Add the beans and their liquid and the stock or water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans start to break apart, 20-30 minutes.  Remove the beans from the heat and let cool slightly.


    FOR SALSA:  In a bowl, stir together the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.


    Working in batches, transfer the bean mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.  Transfer the puree to a clean saucepan and reheat over low heat, stirring frequently, until hot.  (If not serving immediately, keep warm over very low heat, stirring often.)


    Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top each serving with a spoonful of salsa and a dollop of sour cream.