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I make a big pot of vegan chilli roughly as follows:

  1. Saute onion and garlic.
  2. Brown soya mince.
  3. Add 1 tin corn, 1 tin tomatoes, 1 tin chickpeas, 2 tins beans, various spices, cocoa powder, and tomato paste.
  4. Simmer for a while.

I'm sorry if all the tins made you cringe. I'm not a cook and I like how convenient the recipe is. Nevertheless, I have dry beans now so I can do better! I want to use the quick soak method from here to cook the beans:

Place 1 lb. dried pinto beans in a large, heavy pot. Cover with water about 2” above top of beans. Cover pot, bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Let rest 1 hour. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Uncover, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are tender and creamy, checking after 1 hour and adding more water as necessary to keep beans submerged, 1–1 1/2 hours total.

However I have no idea how this fits into the grander scheme of the chilli recipe. I see three options:

  1. Once I've gone through the above soaking, consider the beans equivalent to tinned beans and just continue as usual.
  2. Reduce the amount of time soaking and heating to compensate for the time spent simmering with other ingredients.
  3. Cook the non-bean ingredients on their own and only mix the two parts after both are done without further cooking.

Should I add the spices to the beans as they soak?

What should I do with the soak water?

I bought the dry beans from my local supermarket and they're not the typical varieties I see in recipes (I have no idea where to find dry black or pinto beans where I live). I have:

  1. White kidney beans
  2. Half white sugar beans
  3. Red speckled beans
  4. Small white beans

Which of these beans can I use in the recipe, and what modifications to the recipe should I make?

Thanks for reading all the way through! I'm sorry if there are too many questions at once, they all seem tightly related to me.

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I would soak the beans for several hours, or overnight; discard the soaking water. Tinned beans have been cooked, so place the soaked beans in your usual cooking vessel and add fresh water to about an inch over the beans. You could add in your tomato paste, spices, and cocoa powder.

While it simmers for about 20 minutes or so, I would separately saute your onion, garlic, and mince before adding that mixture to the pot, along with all your other veg. Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. You can always test a few beans, to make sure that they're becoming tender.

You might try the white kidney beans first; they're very commonly-found in many chili recipes, but any of your bean varieties would work. Some may need shorter soaking and cooking times; the package directions should guide you in this.

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The question of how to modify the quick-cooked beans recipe with your chili recipe depends on how tender you like the beans in your chili.

If you like them as firm as they are straight out of the can, you can use your 'simmer for a while' to be the last 30 min of cooking the beans. You'd drain the beans after an hour of simmering (reserving some of the liquid), mix them in with most of the vegetables for the chili (everything except the tomato products), and then simmer 'til the beans are the desired tenderness, add the tomatoes & tomato paste, then cook for 10 or 15 minutes more.

You will need to watch the level of liquid during this final simmering, and regularly stir it -- you want to make sure that it doesn't get so dry that you risk scorching the chili on the bottom of the pot. Also note that the onions will be softer than your typical recipe -- the acids from the tomatoes will keep the onions from breaking down as quickly. And they keep the beans from getting as tender.

If you want to get the beans to softer than they are out of the can, I'd cook them fully on their own, then add them to the chili. But you can start the chili in parallel -- at a minimum cook the onion & garlic, but you could also get it so that everything's in except the beans, and just move them in later and give it a few more minutes for the flavors to meld.

And for your other questions:

  • Do not spice the water for the beans. Very little of the flavor will transfer unless you end up boiling off all of the water.

  • Most people pour the soak water down the drain. You might be able to water plants with it, but I wouldn't do it unless you're diluting it, as you'd be salting your plants. If you're serving the chili over pasta, you could use it for cooking the pasta (adding more water if necessary).

  • If you were soaking them overnight, I'd go with the white kidney beans ... but for this recipe, I'd go with whatever beans were smaller as they won't take as long to cook. Although, if they're tiny (smaller than black beans), I might go a bit larger.

  • Look to see if there are any latin markets in your area. They would likely have pinto & black beans, and most have really good prices on produce.

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