I hate Lima beans. I have hated them since I was about 4 years old when my grandmother (probably suffering from early effects of Alzheimers) peeled a plateful of Lima beans. I figured there must be something wrong with them because she peeled them, so I decided I didn’t like them (I have no idea why she even peeled them, it had to take a lot of work to do it!). Thinking back, I didn’t care for any type of bean throughout my childhood (green beans were the only exception). My mother didn’t help the Lima bean situation as she often served them with liver and onions. Yes, she did that maybe twice when she realized I wanted nothing to do with it and stopped making me eat them (this was all before I turned 6!).
As I grew, my feelings towards beans began to change, especially as I adapted to a plant based lifestyle. My favorite way to eat beans is mushed up in hummus or dips, but I am learning to like many types of beans in a variety of ways. Except Lima beans. I can only tolerate them in soups where their presence is outweighed by other yummy veggies. Recently my husband mentioned he loved butter bean soup as a child, as he found it very comforting. He especially remembers with fondness the huge ham hock and bits of ham that were in the soup. Butter beans are basically ginormous Lima beans…I wasn’t sure I could handle them, but approached it with an open mind. This weekend I decided to try the soup. I found several recipes that basically all had the same ingredients, so I set out to make my own recipe. I found butter beans, which are really a type of Lima bean since the type I bought were Peruvian Lima beans. Lima beans are small and green and rather dry, butter beans are big and white. Butter beans I discovered are actually quite buttery in texture and very mild; I was pleasantly surprised!
In place of ham and bacon I used vegan bacon bits (they are not plant strong as they have some oil in them) and some liquid smoke. If you don’t want to use the bacon bits, you can just use liquid smoke near the end of cooking. The recipe was a HUGE success! My husband loved the soup as did I, and can proudly say I love butter beans! I’m happy to have a big pot of left over soup this week.
Here’s my adaptation of Deep South Dish’s recipe for Creamy Butter Beans
1 pound of large lima beans
Water to cover plus an inch
Soak the beans overnight or use the quick soak method (bring beans in water to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes)
Drain the beans and place back in stock pot and cover with water and boil for 1-1 1/2 hours or until tender. Refrigerate until ready to use.
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 ribs of celery, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (or less) of dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper grinder
Liquid smoke to taste
2 cups of Happy Herbivore’s Not so Chicken broth *(I can’t post the recipe here, but if you send me a private message, I can send it to you)
4-6 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup flour dissolved in cool water
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch of Cajun seasoning (I use one from The Spice House)
Couple pinches of kosher salt, or to taste
- Dry sauté the onions (no oil or water) until they start to release juices (1-2 minutes), add garlic and about a tsp of liquid (I used white wine) to prevent burning. Sauté about a minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant. If using, add the vegan Baco’s at this time.
- Add celery and carrots and cook about 5 minutes, to soften the veggies. Add the thyme and stir into the veggies.
- Add the flour/water mixture and evenly coat the veggies.
- Add the Not So Chicken broth and additional water. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until veggies are tender (30-40 minutes). *if you want a creamier soup, add some more flour mixed with cool water to the soup while it’s cooking (stir while adding the mixture so it doesn’t clump or sink to the bottom).
- Add the butter beans and liquid smoke to taste (or more vegan Baco’s).
- Add the Cajun seasoning, fresh parsley and salt and pepper as needed, remove bay leaves before serving.
Garnish with additional Baco’s and serve with some crusty whole grain bread.
Makes great leftovers!