Large Lima Bean Soup is cheap, filling and kind of exotic.
Los Angeles Times food writer Russ Parsons wrote a story a while back confirming for me once and for all that soaking dry beans is unnecessary and he even went on to debunk the usual cooking lore that salting early will produce tough skins. That story was a game changer. I love the freedom. He used the oven. I just throw the beans in a slow cooker with water and salt and leave. No more anxiety. Let it go. See this for cooking black-eyed peas.
I’ve even gone renegade and quit sauteing the onions and vegetables before adding them to the beans. Now I just combine it all in about three minutes without a care and the beans are always perfect. It’s true. Don’t soak, give the water a good pinch of salt, add the onions, celery, carrots, whatever in the crock-pot and after 6 to 8 hours of simmering over there on the counter, you’ll have incredible bean soup. End of story.
I love all kinds of beans, but tend to stick with old favorites like pintos and white beans. Branching out is a good thing for us all, so use the same method and try a new bean. When is the last time large limas were on your menu? Never? These beauties are huge, creamy and make fabulous soup. I’m surprised I haven’t seen them on the menu at one of the precious southern heirloom restaurants around Nashville along with the chicken gizzard appetizers. Talk about a fantastic profit margin.
You’ll definitely want some crispy cornbread with this soup!
- 1 pound dry large lima beans
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- Salt pork, country ham, smoked ham hock (optional)
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium to large slow cooker except salt. Use as much or as little ham as you like. A piece of country ham or salt pork the size of a golf ball or one smoked ham hock works great.
- Add about 8 cups water. I use hot water to get things going.
- Add a generous pinch of salt (Be frugal if you are using salty ham.)
- Cook on high about 6 hours or on low about 8 hours or until the beans are very tender and the broth thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Pass a bottle of hot sauce at the table.
- If you want the soup extra meaty, add a cup of diced ham.