How to Cook Kidney Beans

Haricot beans, small kidney beans and yellow and green split peas are perhaps the most common varieties in use in catering, although the range is much wider. Whatever type is used the same principles discussed below hold true.

Chefs do not agree whether pulse vegetables should be soaked before cooking or not, and if so whether they should be soaked in cold water or covered with hot water before soaking them. In this respect the same guide is given for cooking pulse vegetables as outlined under purée soups based on pulse vegetables. Pulse vegetables with an outer shell, e.g. haricot and kidney beans, require soaking in cold water for approximately 12 hours before cooking; they are then washed in cold water in preparation for cooking. Pulse vegetables such as yellow and green split peas with no outer shell do not require soaking before cooking as it may make them difficult to cook through.

Some difficulty may be experienced when cooking some pulse vegetables. They remain tough or hard at the center of the vegetable when cooked for the prescribed time. Adding 10g of baking soda to every 1 kg of pulse vegetable and 2 liters of water when soaking or cooking will help to alleviate the problem.

Once cooked, remove and discard any whole vegetables, bouquet garni and bacon trimmings or ham bone. The vegetables should be placed in a stainless steel or earthenware dish with the cooking liquid. When cold the vegetables should be covered with cling film and stored in a refrigerator at 8°C.

Reheat the vegetables gently in an oven in the liquid in which they were cooked covered with a lid.

Makes: 10 portions. Cooking time: 2½-3 hours. Oven temperature: 150°C.


— 750 grams kidney beans soaked for 12 hours
— 75 grams whole carrots
— 1 whole onion
— 150 grams bacon trimmings or ham bone
— 1 bouquet garni
— seasoning


(1) Wash the soaked beans, place them into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim.

(2) Add the remainder of the ingredients and allow to simmer for 1 hour.

(3) Cover with a lid and transfer to an oven until cooked.

(4) When cooked, remove and discard the whole vegetables, bacon trimmings or ham bone and the bouquet garni. Season to taste.

(5) Serve in a vegetable dish with a little of the liquid.

(1) Do not season the vegetables until they are nearly cooked. To do so may make them over-salted due to the salt in the bacon or ham bone.

(2) To test if cooked remove some of the vegetables with a perforated spoon and test them between the fingers. When cooked they are soft and yield to finger pressure.