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Quick Legume Recipes: Soup, Dips, and More

Updated on October 3, 2013

From Dry Ingredients

My cooking stash includes a lot of quick cooking legumes: split red lentils, hummus powder, flakes of refried black beans. I even have some garbanzo flour!

I'm not a camper, but I have my reasons...

Legumes are healthy for a vegetarian, but one thing they aren't (usually) is quick! Canned isn't a good option for me. My entire living quarters -- cooking appliances and all -- is under 200 square feet. I don't want cans piling up, waiting to be recycled. I don't have food processors or other fancy equipment to mash or puree beans or chick peas. I don't even have a standard-size refrigerator for storing lots of half empty cans and jars. So, quick-cooking, but dry, it is!

Admittedly, 'just add water' may not make for the best cooking experience. But there are a lot of things that can be done with split lentils and with flakes and powders. Some of it is quite quick -- and often more tasty and wholesome than what comes out of a can.

Images by the author of the page

Soup Time: Two Handy Ingredients - Confession: Trader Joe's Pre-cooks My Barley

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The barley in the above photo appears to be regular whole pearled barley. It is not flaked. However, it has been pre-cooked, then dried. If the water has been boiled, it will cook in as little as 10 minutes.

The Trader Joe's split red lentils will cook in about 12. As you can see from the photo, the two ingredients are good friends.

I may make this soup, or some variant, several times a week during the colder months. It has a good vegetarian protein source, a (mostly) whole grain, and some nutrient-dense veggies. Dinner can be ready within 20 minutes of the time I get home. I'm not standing at the stove the whole time either -- chances are good I'm at the computer!

Cook Time

Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 - 20 minutes

Serves: Variable


  • Split red lentils
  • Quick (pre-cooked) dry barley
  • Frozen kale (or other greens)
  • Onions (can be chopped and frozen)
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Optional: Bragg's or Trader Joe's 'Every Day Seasoning'


  1. Put water on the burner.
  2. Start tossing things in! The barley can be added immediately. The lentils can be added as soon as they're rinsed.
  3. Add a dash (or more) of sesame oil. The oil gives it a golden color -- and those little dots of grease that say "mmm... broth". (I've also found that recipes with sesame oil need very little in the way of salt. I don't use it.)
  4. Add greens and frozen onions.
  5. Sprinkle in garlic to taste.
  6. And that's about it, save for a few stirs! It will mostly cook itself.
Cast your vote for Fifteen Minute Lentil and Barley Soup

Hummus Among Us - Making Hummus From Dry Mix

The basic mix is beyond simple: a cup of hummus mix, a cup and a half of water, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

What do you do with the concoction? Stir it around, let it sit for a moment... that's it.

By using olive oil, you've got a healthier product than ready-made hummus, and it still costs less.

If the hummus tastes a tad artificial or a tad too lemony, that's easily fixed. Even a bit of chopped garlic (pre-cooked in the microwave) will go a long way toward rendering that unnoticeable.

Fancy Hummus With Four Quick Add-Ins - A Variation on the Basic Hummus Recipe

Add one of these ingredients... or all four of them together! These four things make for a quick, but gourmet-tasting, hummus.

  • Parsley: A sprig (or two or three) of fresh parsley can very quickly make hummus seem like something that didn't come from a mix.
  • Toasted sesame oil: Toasted sesame oil is a cousin of the tahini used in hummus recipes. When I consider how long it lasts, the toasted sesame oil is quite a justifiable expense. Tahini, unfortunately, isn't. Sesame oil can be used in place of some of the olive oil. If I add a dash of sesame oil, it tastes like the hummus mix is a lot heavier on roasted or toasted tahini spread than it is. It cuts the lemon taste, too.
  • Chopped macademia nuts: I see gourmet tahini spreads with (just a bit of) pine nut in the refrigerator section. I am using chopped macademia nuts -- the kind sold for baking -- because... they turned up in the Grocery Outlet. They are not a bad substitution. Both nuts have that buttery taste and texture. Macademia nuts may be a bit sweeter, but the sweetness is not noticeable when they are mixed into hummus. Perhaps they are absorbing other flavors -- they get a suspiciously smoky taste. (I have a suspicion that chopped macademia nuts and toasted sesame oil are, at the least, friendly acquaintances.)
  • Garlic: I like to pre-cook garlic cloves in the microwave and have them soft and recipe-ready in the refrigerator, Again, it takes next to no time to cut or break a couple of garlic cloves into hummus.

Hummus Mix

Hummus mix keeps a long time -- but can be mixed up in next to no time. I get mine from the bulk food bin, but it is also readily available online. (It seemed more appetizing and 'real' coming out of the bulk bin, but I recognize the same stuff is sold both ways!)

Casbah Hummus Mix, 6 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Casbah Hummus Mix, 6 Ounce (Pack of 12)

There are several brands, including Casbah and Fantastic Foods. I'm showing off this Casbah mix besides it's a good deal.


Lunchbox Food!

Here we find hummus and carrot sticks, together in a little lunchbox container. It is indeed possible to mix hummus right there in the petite two-ounce dip/ dressing cup. It is even possible to stir it with the carrot stick! (It's not recommended if you like things just so -- and if you mind a wee bit of powder left clinging to the cup. However, if you would prefer utensils that can be eaten, and don't have to be washed...)

Other option for gourmet hummus:

Defrost one or two frozen artichoke hearts.

Toss in a few dry sundried tomatoes.

Either option is complemented by garlic.

Hummus From Garbanzo Flour

Some people make hummus from garbanzo flour. It takes a little longer, as it needs to be briefly cooked. Using plain garbanzo also means you need a few more ingredients on hand, like lemon.

I add a bit of garbanzo flour to hummus mix. It doesn't contribute to taste, but it stre-e-tches the hummus, and also cuts down on the salt. With just a little garbanzo flour stirred into the mix, the concoction doesn't require cooking.

Garbanzo flour can be had for less dough than hummus mix! I think mine was $1.69 a pound (at the bulk section in Whole Foods).

The Quick Way to Bean Dip, Burrito Mix, Soup...

... And then there are those little flakes of refried beans, also available from the bulk food bin at some food co-ops. Unlike the hummus, they do need to soak for five minutes or so (ideally, perhaps, more) to get the right texture. But the mixing itself is almost instant.


I like to add a little chipotle from a container in the refrigerator.

I also put in a handful of chopped, frozen onion and pepper mix. (It's sold in the frozen food section of my neighborhood Dollar Tree and is easy to keep on hand.)

Those two things go a long way to turning it into instant dip. Of course there are many other things that could go in: salsa, cheese, textured vegetable protein...

Turning Bean Mix Into Dip

Chipotle peppers are one of the few things I ever buy in canned form. They keep a long time, even after they are opened. I transfer them into two or three small lidded containers and place one in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer. It takes a very small amount of pepper, or sauce, to flavor a serving of beans (and turn it into dip).

Here we find the cook at the stove, reconstituting some basic dried, refried beans. She opted for five minutes at the stove. Not a bad idea... in the winter time. A couple minutes in the microwave also does the trick (and saves on dishes).

Santa Fe Quick Cooking Beans

Apparently all of these Santa Fe bean varieties are vegetarian! The refried varieties are done in five minutes, but there are a couple things in the assortment that take 25 minutes (still a lot less time than cooking whole pinto beans from scratch).

My refried black bean mix comes from the bulk food aisle, but I rather fancy this assortment. It's not just that there are more flavors. It's all so... organized. The pouches are resealable. (I have virtually no kitchen storage in my room, but those pouches could go easily into a basket.)

One reviewer has noted that some varieties include a preservative. To get the product completely natural, read labels. The 'fat-free refried black beans', and 'fat-free vegetarian refried beans' are completely natural while the 'Southwestern style' isn't.These three varieties can be bought separately at a price of about eight bags for $19.

Sodium content also varies quite a bit from one variety to the next. Surprisingly, the borracho beans are a very low-sodium option. They are all natural, but a bit more expensive than the other varieties.

Sodium-Free Instant Refried Beans

The Santa Fe culinary refried beans have no added salt -- and no added anything. There is one ingredient: pinto beans.

This is also a budget option. A case of three two-pound resealable bags run about $18.

Black Bean Burger - Made With Dried Refried Beans (Though Not Nearly As Quickly)

Ready Bean Burgers... and More!

Here is a quick refried bean burger recipe from a company that makes dried refried beans. It's not the one that I used for my black bean burgers -- I was playing around with ingredients -- but this one is quicker.

This same page includes a lot of recipes that use dried refried beans or partially cooked/ dried whole beans. It looks like good stuff!

Thoughts to Share

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    • yania227 profile image

      yania227 4 years ago

      Everything look very good!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I do make a soup like this but never heard of dry hummus mix so it looks promising for me to do in a flash.

    • DownToEarthLiving profile image

      Evelyn 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks so much for these great, quick vegetarian recipes. I've been looking for quick lunch ideas, other than leftovers. I love to cook from scratch, but sometimes want to spend time away from the kitchen. Great lens.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      Thank you for these tasty recipes. Well done.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      These all sound really really good. I love the consistency of beans.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 4 years ago

      Quick and easy... you're playing my song. Thanks for the recipes and tips.