Butter Bean Soup (with Ham and Cabbage)
We loved this tasty Butter Bean Soup with lots of Ham and Cabbage, and this can be made with dried or canned beans. You can also use Lima Beans if you don’t find butter beans.
If you’re someone who might be inclined to turn up your nose at the mention of butter beans or lima beans, stay with me for a minute here. I first made this Butter Bean Soup with Florida Butter Beans, and they’re are creamy and delicious!
If you can find those (or something similar) I highly recommend making this soup starting with dried beans that you’ve soaked overnight. But when I decided this soup desperately needed an updated photo, I decided to try it with canned butter beans from the supermarket, and I was happily surprised at how good it was that way too. If you still can’t wrap your mind around the idea of butter beans or lima beans, try the soup with a different type of white bean!
I first made this soup when I had a bad cold that hung on for weeks and I needed some comfort food. But it was just as delicious when I made it again recently on one of those cold winter days where nothing sounds as appealing as soup simmering on the stove!
What ingredients do you need for this recipe?
(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- dried butter beans or canned Butter Beans (affiliate link)
- Olive Oil (affiliate link)
- Dried Thyme (affiliate link)
- Goya Ham Flavor Concentrate (affiliate link), to taste
- green cabbage
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
What Butter Beans did I use for Butter Bean Soup?
I made this soup the first time with dried Florida Butter Beans, (a type of heirloom baby lima bean) that I bought in San Francisco from Rancho Gordo Beans. I used canned butter beans when I updated the photos, and both those types of beans were delicious in this soup.
Can you use a different type of beans?
If you can’t wrap your mind around the idea of butter beans or lima beans, try the soup with a different type of white bean! I think Cannellini beans or pinto beans would both be a good choice.
How to make the Butter Bean Soup lower in carbs:
A soup recipe that starts with a pound of dried beans is not going to be low in carbs of course. But you can make this soup much lower in carbs by using fewer beans and more ham and cabbage.
How to Make Butter Bean Soup with Ham and Cabbage:
(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- If you’re lucky enough to have some dried Florida Butter Beans or another type of dried butter beans or large white beans, soak them at least 8 hours, then drain the beans.
- If you’re using canned butter beans, drain them into a colander and rinse well with cold water, until no more foam appears.
- Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot and saute the onion and celery a few minutes; then add the Dried Thyme (affiliate link) and cook a couple of minutes more.
- Add the beans and 2 quarts water (for dried beans ) or 6 cups water (for canned beans.)
- For dried beans, simmer on low until the beans are tender, probably an hour or more.
- For canned beans, simmer about 20 minutes. (Add more water as needed while the beans are cooking.)
- While the beans cook, finely chop the cabbage.
- I used this boneless ham steak from Costco for the ham. Cut up enough ham to make about 2 cups of diced ham.
- Depending on how flavorful your ham is, you may want to add a little ham bouillon to the soup when you add the ham. Goya Ham Bouillon (affiliate link) is my favorite brand, but there are other good brands.
- When the dried beans are nearly soft, add ham and cabbage and cook about 30 minutes more at a low simmer (or maybe a little longer for dried beans), until the beans are quite soft and the cabbage is completely soft and almost dissolving into the soup.
- And here’s how my Butter Bean Soup looked after it had simmered long enough and was ready to eat.
More Recipes with Butter Beans or Large White Beans:
- Ottolenghi’s Fried Beans with Sorrel, Feta, and Sumac ~ David Lebovitz
- Butter Bean Salad – Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Spanish Chicken Baked with Butter Beans, Chorizo, and Olives ~ Cook Sister
Weekend Food Prep:
This Butter Bean Soup recipe has been added to a new category called Weekend Food Prep to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!
- 1 lb. dried butter beans (see notes for canned beans)
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 quarts water
- Goya Ham Bouillon, to taste (optional, but recommended)
- 2 cups finely chopped green cabbage
- 2 cups finely diced ham (see notes)
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Soak dried beans for about 8 hours, then pour into colander, rinse, and let drain. (I think the best way to cook beans is to soak them all day while you’re at work, then cook at night.)
- For canned beans, drain them into a colander placed in the sink and rinse well with cold water (until you don’t see any more foam.)
- In heavy soup pot, heat olive oil, saute onion and celery 3-4 minutes, until starting to soften, then add thyme and saute 1-2 minutes more. Add beans and 2 quarts water (for dried beans) or 6 cups water (for canned beans).
- Cook dried beans at a low simmer until they are starting to soften, adding a little more water occasionally if needed. (This could take an hour or more, depending on how fresh the beans are.)
- Cook canned beans about 20 minutes at a low simmer.
- When beans feel like they are about 3/4 soft (when you bite down on one) add ham flavor base (affiliate link) if using, finely chopped cabbage, and finely diced ham.
- Cook about 30 minutes more (or maybe a little longer for canned beans), until beans are very soft, soup broth is very flavorful, and most of the cabbage has disintegrated into the soup.
- Season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.
Use Rancho Gordo Florida Butter Beans, other dried butter beans, or baby lima beans to make this soup. Or use three or four 15-oz. cans of butter beans if you can’t find dried beans.
If you have a ham bone or some pieces of rind, by all means use them and remove when you serve the soup.
This recipe was created by Kalyn when she had Rancho Gordo Florida Butter Beans.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 485mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 12gSugar: 7gProtein: 21g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Soup with lots of beans like this Butter Bean Soup will be too high in carbs for a low-carb diet plan, but you can make a version that’s much lower in carbs by using fewer beans and more ham and cabbage. Dried beans are approved for all phases of the original South Beach Diet, but the serving size is limited for phase one. Since this soup has other things besides beans, you could eat a small bowl for phase one or a larger bowl for phase two or three.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Soup Recipes to find more tasty soups like this one! Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
The Butter Bean Soup recipe was first posted in 2007, after I had gotten some beans at Rancho Gordo Beans in the Ferry Building. The recipe was update with better photos in 2014 and last updated with more information in 2024.