I remembered (too late) the reason that tomatoes should be added at the END of the cooking: dried beans don't get soft if acid (vinegar, tomatoes, etc.) are added before the beans are soft. I thought it was odd, but followed the recipe almost exactly (no ham was wasted, at least) because of all the good reviews. When I re-read the reviews I noticed a lot of the reviewers mentioned using canned beans, and maybe others used them, also. So, important tips: Canned Beans - Use less water (go by looks, you can add more later if you need it) and a lot less salt. No need to cook 2 hours. Carrots - I followed the recipe and I thought the grated carrots looked very unappetizing in the cooked soup. Chopped work much better. Dried beans - Either soak the beans overnight, or quick soak (boil 10 minutes, then let sit covered for and hour). DO NOT ADD TOMATOES until the beans are soft. TOO LATE? If you've already been cooking the recipe as written for 2 to 3 hours when you read this, and still can't stomach the firm beans, you can put the beans in a blender if you didn't add the ham. I used some of the blended beans to make the Black Bean Vegetable Soup from the site. If I hadn't had those additional ingredients I would have had to order pizza.
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I remembered (too late) the reason that tomatoes should be added at the END of the cooking:...