Slow soak + slow cook + slow cooling = best chickpeas. Just consider this a trip to the spa for beans, to bring out the best in them. Just like how it works for us.
- I use this method of cooking chickpeas for other legumes, such as cannellini beans.
- 1 cup of dried chickpeas yields about 4 cups of cooked chickpeas
- To salt or not to salt: There are two different camps of opinions on salting. One camp of thought says to do it as it adds flavor and doesn’t toughen them. I’m in the other camp. I’ve had my beans toughen up so much with salt while they were cooking that I could have used them for bullets. Others may disagree and salt away. I add mine later.
- Try to prevent the beans from foaming, as this can lead to air pockets in the beans which can translate into a dry texture when done. If you see any foaming, skim the surface of the water with a metal spoon to remove the foam, and reduce your heat a bit.
Step 1: Inspect
Spread one cup dried chickpeas on a baking sheet and remove any stones, damaged beans, or other grit. Place the beans in a colander and rinse.
Step 2: Pre- Soak
There are a few ways to do this but my favorite is to pile them into a Le Creuset or other heavy pot, cover them with two inches of water, and head off to bed. If you don’t remember until the next day, bring them to a simmer, cover and cook for two minutes, and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for four hours before cooking, or skip this step altogether.
Pre-soaking isn’t a crucial step, but there are a few advantages in the finished beans to consider:
- Easier to digest
- Faster cooking time
- Improved texture (mostly due to the shortened cooking time)
- More even cooking
Step 3: Prepare the Cooking Broth
Drain the water from the pre-soaked beans and cover them with at least two inches of fresh water. If the beans weren’t pre-soaked, cover the beans with at least three inches of water. More is better, to ensure the pot doesn’t run out of liquid. I’ve done this, and it’s not pretty.
Beans are a little bland and benefit greatly from vegetables added to the water for flavoring. I add half a peeled yellow onion, one or two large peeled, smashed garlic cloves, and a whole dried chipotle pepper. The dried pepper doesn’t add any spiciness, just a little smokiness. Feel free to add what you like – it could be black peppercorns and a bay leaf. But if you use herbs that easily fall apart such as thyme, wrap in cheesecloth before adding to the water. This makes them easy to remove when the beans are cooked.
Step 4: Simmer
Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer, and cook until the beans are tender. Timing generally varies with the age of the chickpeas, but with a pre-soak it typically takes me about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Otherwise, they’ll need four hours of cooking, sometimes longer.
Some legumes will take longer, for example white beans can take 2 1/2 hours of simmering.
Alternate ways of cooking:
1) Once the beans come to a boil, cover and place in a 350° F oven. I’ve done stews like this too as it promotes a more even cooking. The cooking time should be about the same.
2) Use a slow cooker! This is a wonderful way to cook chickpeas or any other bean. I posted details on this here.
3) I know some who use a pressure cooker, but I haven’t ventured there yet. For sure, it will dramatically shorten the cooking time when in a rush!
Step 5: Cool down
When the chickpeas are done, turn the stove off. Stir in a teaspoon of salt, keep the pot covered, and allow the chickpeas to completely cool in the water. This last soak in the hot tub adds a surprising amount to both the flavor and creamy texture.
Once cooled, whatever you don’t think you’ll use quickly – just throw in a freezer-safe container and freeze. It’s great having some of these in the freezer as they thaw quickly and can be used for a quick, healthy week-night dinner. I don’t typically keep cooked chickpeas in the refrigerator for longer than 4 days.