Healthier Gravies and Soups with Bean Flour

That lady at church, the one handing out snack sized baggies of white bean flour samples? Yeah, that’d be me.  You see, I just discovered the absolute coolest (this week anyway) substitute for flour as a thickening agent! Great White Northern beans!

Country Beans by Rita Bingham, is another superb cookbook for the serious homemaker. Whether you want to sneak that extra bit of protein into soups and sauces, or if you’re trying to cater to special diets (gluten-free, lactose-free, for instance) this cookbook is a worthwhile purchase. My copy was given to me a month ago and I can only say I wish I’d had it 15 years ago when I first started keeping hearth and home!

After reading about the multiple uses for bean flour, I’ve had a blast experimenting. Thankfully, my mom is generously loaning me her wheat grinder to grind up beans*. Pinto beans for an excellent instant refried bean recipe (3/4 cup of this make-ahead mix whisked into 2.5 cups boiling water and voila, refried beans in minutes–which mixed with picante sauce and topped with melted cheese…mmmm–it’s so good!), Great White Northern beans for thickening gravies and soups a tablespoon at a time. Best part about it is you can’t taste the beans!

I made a big pot of tomato soup to go with grilled cheese sandwiches the other day when we had friends over…none of the six children present were aware that they were eating beans with their soup. And the soup thickened up so nicely…

Today I fixed pot roast for lunch with my parents. In making gravy, I poured the pan juices from the beef roast into a sauce pan, brought them to boiling and added 3 tablespoons white bean powder, whisking thoroughly with my Pampered Chef mini-whipper (every cook needs one of these, they eradicate lumps!). I let it simmer for several minutes and served it with Yukon Gold potatoes and the beef…talk about tasty and smooth, and the perfect gravy consistency. Three cheers for bean powder!

This cookbook has a variety of ways to use up beans, from chips to crackers to hearty bean soups (it’s not all about powdered beans!) to breads and salads, to sprouting beans and canning them, and how to incorporate them into breakfast foods, drinks and shakes.

Last but not least, here are some pluses about bean flour:

  • bean flours are said to be easier to digest
  • and implementing them into your cooking a little bit at a time helps your digestive system develop the enzymes needed to digest beans efficiently
  • bean flour thickens in 1-3 minutes after adding it to hot soups and gravies
  • beans are cheap, big nutritional bang for your buck
  • no chemical additives, colorings, flavorings–a great whole foods choice
  • beans are high in B vitamins, iron, and carbohydrates (these bean carbs are “working calories” which digest slowly and satisfy your hunger longer!)

What other incredibly unique cookbooks are out there? I’d love to know!

*note: when using a grain grinder to grind beans, run a cup of hard wheat berries through after every two cups of beans to clean the grinding stones.

11 thoughts on “Healthier Gravies and Soups with Bean Flour”

  1. I’m here to testify that the bean flour gravy and the refried beans made with bean flour are great. My mind got going on other ways to use the flour…as thickening in shepherd’s pie, in meat balls, as breading for meats, as partial replacement for white flour in crusts (as for shepherd’s pie). Wonder if the flour thus made should be refrigerated to prevent deterioration.

    We are blessed to have a culinary experimenter at the head of the kitchen at Mary’s house. And as she always includes her children in food preparation, just think what good habits they are learning!

  2. Mary, I am ashamed I am not one of those cooking mommies. The only that is homemade in this house are my flour tortillas and that’s because my family won’t eat store bought, ewwww…

    I will just have to take you word for it about the bean flour.

  3. Thanks, Mom! I love your ideas! I know the bean flour itself is supposed to be refrigerated (I should have mentioned that above) so it’s probably a good idea to refrigerate the pie crusts too…wouldn’t that be something if that worked!

    Leticia, homemade tortillas!! Do you have a tortilla press? Otherwise that takes a ton of muscle, rolling them out. I’ve only done it a couple of times! Lol, don’t be ashamed! It’s not like bean flour is easy to come by…

  4. Nope, no tortilla press, I roll them out. But once you have had homemade tortillas, you just cannot go back to store bought, speaking of which I ate the last one this morning and hubby was non to happy that we were out!! LOL!

    Looks like I am going to be doing that tonight, after I am done with laundry.

  5. Well, I’m impressed! I made enough once for tacos for a youth group meal to feed 25, and that was exhausting even with a tortilla press! But you’re right, they are super yummy!

    Have fun making more tonight!

  6. Hi Mary…long time no posting…sorry I have been SO busy. I was just reading this and I was wondering what kind of grain mill you have and if you like it? It’s funny I saw this posting since we have been eating lots of beans lately-we have a freezer full of meat yet I have run out of ideas (cost effective ones anyways) of what to do with it so I am trying to use beans more. Weird that most of the ingredients in beans recipes are cheap, whereas meat recipes seem to call for lots of pricey little things which add up quick! Anyways take care!

  7. I bet you have been busy! How’s that little girl? ;O) I love it when you have time to stop by and drop a note. I’m currently using my mom’s Grain Master Whisper Mill, and it works wonderfully! However, the company that made them discontinued them…so if you were to buy one, your best bet is ebay, and it wouldn’t come with a guarantee. For $269 you can purchase a Nutri Mill, which looks the best to me. Hubby and I have been researching the kinds available so we can get one of our own. It sounds even better than the Whisper Mill, no flour dust, will hold a lot more flour, power a-plenty, and will grind beans! You might look into the Vitamix as well. Maybe you’ve seen the recent thread about them at the Shed? They are very versatile from the sounds of it, even able to grind grain…but I haven’t heard whether or not they grind up beans. HGHs!

    Yes, beans are wonderful to stretch the budget. You sound like you cook like me…I usually combine meat with other things to make main dishs (meatballs/stews/lasagnas/casseroles, etc) rather than just fixing hamburgers, steaks, etc.

    You take care too! Spring is almost here!

  8. Hi Sandy, what tortilla recipe exactly? I didn’t mention one in this particular post.

    I’ve made tortillas before but it’s been so long I can’t remember how I did it. I think I just bought a bag of the special Mexican flour at Wal-Mart and followed the directions on the sack.

    Sorry I’m not more help! We need to get Leticia on here, she makes her own tortillas all the time!

    Mary

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