How to Cook Beans & Soup Bones in a Slow Cooker

Cooked legumes and vegetables in a bowl


Many traditional dishes from around the world revolve around filling a stoneware crock with beans and flavoring ingredients, then letting them slow-cook gently on a hearth or in the ashes of a dying fire. Countertop slow cookers replicate that process with a small electric element and multiple settings, enabling modern cooks to take advantage of the same long, slow cooking time. Simmering your beans together with soup bones and other aromatic ingredients is one way to infuse your beans -- and anything made with them -- with rich, well-balanced flavors.

Soak your beans overnight in a bowl or sink with enough cold water to cover them to a depth of 2 inches.

Place your soup bones in the bottom of your slow cooker, and surround them with coarsely chopped onions, garlic, bay leaves or other aromatic ingredients as desired.

Pour your soaked beans in around the soup bones. Pour in enough water or broth -- either meat or vegetable broth -- to cover the beans to a depth of 1/4 inch. Little water will evaporate, so you don't need much extra.

Simmer the beans for eight to 10 hours on your cooker's "Low" setting, or until they're tender but not yet falling apart. Serve the beans in their cooking liquid, or drain them and refrigerate or freeze them for later use.