This is dish was cooked with dried beans soaked overnight to soften the skins before they were simmered. So, don’t be shocked at the total cooking time. Twelve of the fifteen hours required to make this soup is just for soaking the beans.
Soaking dried beans for twelve hours doesn’t mean they will cook in a short time. It will still take a couple of hours to simmer them before they reach that creamy tenderness that makes them so good.
Using two pots, one for the beans and another for the chicken, saves time. The chicken will cook ahead of the beans so, while the beans are still simmering, you can cool and debone the chicken.
The obvious question is whether canned beans can be substituted. Yes, but the texture of the soup will not be the same. Canned beans are often overcooked to mushiness so if you’re going to substitute, add the beans to the soup during the last few minutes of cooking — just long enough to heat them through and boil with the rest of the ingredients for a short time.
As for the peppercorns… Red, green, black and white peppercorns were used here because I was able to get all colors in a single jar. Regular black or white peppercorns will do.
Herby chicken, beans and tomato soup
- Rinse the beans several times then soak in water overnight.
- Cook the beans in simmering water for about an hour and a half to two hours, or until tender.
- In another pot, drop in the chicken, cover with water, add the whole garlic, onion, tomatoes, bay leaf, peppercorns, rosemary, oregano and salt.
- Bring to the boil, remove the scum as it rises, lower the heat, cover and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half.
- Remove the chicken, garlic, onion and tomatoes from the broth. Cool.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Debone the chicken; discard the bones. Do not flake the meat; rather, tear them into fairly large pieces.
- Peel and mash the garlic, onion and tomatoes.
- Return everything to the broth in the pot, add the cooked beans with the cooking liquid, add more salt if necessary, bring to the boil and simmer for ten to 15 minutes, tasting occasionally and adding more salt, as needed.