Have you ever cooked dry garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas?
They are these rather large and lumpy looking tan balls, very roundish and reminiscent of peas, at least to me. I remember trying to cook them once, but they never ever soften up into an edible state, and I refused to try again for decades. My better half made noises about how they are to ONLY be eaten on salads (which he hates anyhow) and never in soup. They are included in 15-bean soup mixes too, so I knew they really DID eventually cook.
My mother buys chick pea flour to make her hummus with, but I haven’t found a health food store that carries food items yet in the Mobile-to-Biloxi stretch of the Gulf Coast, so I haven’t tried it yet. (If anyone knows of one, do let me know! Walmart isn’t known for its health food items!)
The other day, I decided I was going to cook some garbanzos again. I’m not sure why. I bought a package of 3 small ham hocks and a pound of garbanzo beans, and headed home with my prize. I put them on to cook the other night.
In the crock pot, where it took hours to bring them to a simmer. No, I didn’t soak them. I didn’t even use the quick soak method. I almost never do such a thing. I’m not sure if it is because I am lazy or impatient, but I don’t. I don’t recall my mother being real religious about soaking either. I heard a rumor that it made them cook quicker. I can’t say if its true or not.
I started the garbanzos in plain tap water, cold to boot. I put it all in the slow cooker, and turned it on high. I ignored it for a couple of hours, at which point the water reached what I’d call “hot.” I added about a teaspoon of salt, and nope, I didn’t measure it…I just dumped it in my hand and guestimated.
I then went to bed, and woke up about four hours later, at which point the beans were showing signs of softening, but were far from done. I fished the ham hocks out of my refrigerator, and into the pot they went before I headed back to bed. At that point, they had been cooking for about 6 hours, I suppose.
Another four hours of snoozing, and the beans were nearing the “done” stage. I stirred the pot, broke the hocks apart, and replaced the lid, leaving them to continue simmering. About 12 hours after starting the process, we ate a bowl of the hot garbanzo bean soup…and it was simple but tasty.
I then turned the pot down to the keep warm setting, and we’ve been eating beans for another 24 hours. That’s the problem with me making soup…we eat it forever! Still, it was a great pot of soup for serving and eating while I have been nursing a case of the flu and we’ve had a cold spell. It’s hearty, simple, holds well hot, and goes well with a cheese sandwich or a sausage sandwich too. (Probably about anything!)
All in all, I’d say garbanzo beans will make a regular rotation with us now. They do maintain their shape better than any other pea or bean with long cooking, and do not turn into a pot of mush. I’d say that they likely would do well with vegetables and meat added as well. Their mild flavor would certainly accompany other flavors well.