I have used dried beans in slow-cooker recipes for chili that cook all day, but would like to learn how to cook them for soups that don't take all day to cook.
When I make beans I soak them for an hour or so in water. You could even soak them overnight. They start to get all wrinkly looking. I rinse them a few times too. I put them in a strainer with a bowl underneath and fill with water, you'd be surprised at how dirty some beans are.
When you're done soaking, boil them with the lid tilted for an hour or two (some beans cook faster than others). Also stir them often and keep adding water. You shouldn't have anymore crunchy beans.
My mom, who makes wonderful ham and beans, told me to never, ever add salt or anything that might contain salt until the beans are cooked through. I think the salt stops the water absorption, and you end up with crunchy beans.
She also told me 2 ways you can soak beans. The easy way (least work involved) is to soak them in about 4 times as much water overnight. The faster way is to put them in 4 times as much water, bring them to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let set for 2 hours. You will still need to cook the beans after this. Unfortunately, there isn't really any quick way to cook dried beans.
Dry beans can be soaked overnight in just a pan of water covered with water and a lid. Put in a pinch of salt to add to the taste. simmering is not needed but will help speed it up if you need to use dry beans . If you can start your beans in the crock pot the night before after dinner is usually good and let them simmer on low for about eight hours. If you want them quicker. Try using canned cooked beans. BE Sure you drain and rinse them under cold water before using. this is actually a cheaper way if you aren't cooking for a big crowd.
I soaked some Great Northern beans for 24 hours, changing water three times. I then put them in to simmer as a white chili for another 3.5 hours at low heat. Still crunchy. No salt, from what I can tell, no acids either. Low sodium chicken broth, to boot. Any ideas?
Get a pressure cooker. You can cook dried beans start to finish in about 30 minutes, depending on the type of bean. (Bigger beans take longer.) I didn't believe it until I tried it. Pressure cookers are much better than they used to be; they don't blow up like they used to, so make sure you get a new-fangled one. Make sure to read the instructions, though. There is also a good book called "Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure" by Lorna J. Sass which has great details about how to cook dried beans.