Our Favorite Winter Soup – Creamy Lima Beans and Greens Soup
Naturally Creamy Lima Beans and Greens Soup may become your go-to soup this winter and for many winters to come. Relatively quick cooking large limas (1 hour pre-soak and 1 hour cooking time) make a deeply nurturing, rich and flavorful broth.
Once cooked, the large limas become unbelievably tender and creamy. Spinach, kale, chard or other greens bring color and nutrition. The optional sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano, or crumbled soft goat cheese and/or a dollop of pesto make a flavorful garnish.
I’ve been making this soup almost weekly, and sometimes twice weekly, since the first days of chilly fall weather. We’re nowhere near tiring of it. Especially now that I’ve begun adding some crumbled goat cheese as a garnish. The goat cheese melts making Creamy Lima Beans and Greens Soup even creamier and richer.
Required: cook your own beans
When making a bean soup, there is no comparison with the luscious broth from cooking your own beans, versus using water or stock and beans from a can. To create a smooth, full-bodied and richly flavored broth you’ve got to cook your own beans.
Give large limas another try
If you grew up as I did only knowing frozen green lima beans, they may not be your favorite beans. As a child, I would sometimes eat them when they were combined with frozen corn as succotash. I had little interest in ever eating another lima bean.
Until last March when I began enjoying large limas in my early attempts at making a Creamy Lima Beans and Greens Soup. I’m now their fan. So creamy and tender, no wonder large limas are known as butter beans in the U.K. and Southern United States. Buttery rich they certainly are.
A member of the kelp family, dried kombu is often used to flavor broth, as in dashi, the essential stock used in Japanese cooking.
Many cooks add a 4-6 inch piece of dried kombu to beans while they cook to add minerals and to soften the beans, making them more digestible. Optional, though a valuable addition.
Creamy Lima Beans and Greens Soup
Once you put Creamy Lima Beans and Greens Soup on to cook, it pretty much makes itself. Large limas from our local supermarket cook up soft, tender, comforting and delicious in about an hour. Cooking your own beans creates a smooth, full-bodied and richly flavored broth. This is where cooking your own beans really shines versus using canned beans.
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy-Free (without the optional garnish).
Inspired by and adapted from my recipe for Corona Beans and Greens.
Makes 15 cups Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active Time 40 minutes
Total Time 2 ½ hours including 1 hour for presoaking the limas
1 pound large lima beans
1 4-inch piece *kombu, optional
¼ teaspoon salt
8 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups ¼ inch diced onion
1 ½ cups ⅓ inch diced carrot
1 ½ cups ⅓ inch diced celery
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, minced or pressed with a garlic press
2 4-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
9 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 dozen twists freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari, optional
4 packed cups kale, spinach or mixed greens. Baby greens do not need to be cut. Mature greens need to be removed from their stem. The stems, other than spinach stems, cut into ¼-inch rounds, the greens cut in half and then into 1-inch wide strips.
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or crumbled soft goat cheese and/or your favorite pesto
- Rinse and drain the large limas. Place them in a soup pot with ¼ teaspoon salt, optional kombu and 8 cups of water to cover the beans by about 1½ inches. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the beans sit at least 1 hour before draining and rinsing them.
- Prepare each of the vegetables. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Cover the pot and cook the onion, carrot, celery and garlic over medium-low heat for 7 minutes.
- Add the soaked, rinsed and drained beans to the pot along with the fresh rosemary and bay leaves. Add 9 cups of water to cover the beans and vegetables by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover the soup pot and cook the soup at a gentle simmer for 45 minutes.
- Test 2 or 3 lima beans. They are done when soft and tender all the way through. Stir in the salt, pepper and soy sauce if using it. If the beans still need cooking, give them another 15 minutes before checking again. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
- When the beans are cooked, remove the rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and any remaining kombu. Though as the kombu that remains is quite tender, you may choose to leave it in the pot.
- Stir in the greens. Spinach will wilt in a minute. Baby kale and sliced mature kale and stems take about 5 minutes to become tender.
- Serve Creamy Lima Beans and Greens Soup garnished with grated Pecorino Romano, or crumbled goat cheese and/or your favorite pesto.
* Dried kombu, a member of the kelp family, is often used to flavor broth, as in dashi, the essential stock used in Japanese cooking. Many cooks add a 4-6 inch piece of dried kombu to beans while they cook to add minerals and to soften the beans, making them more digestible.