Butter Bean (or Lima Bean) Soup with Ham and Cabbage
Butter Bean Soup with Ham and Cabbage can be made with dried or canned beans.
(Updated with better photos, plus instructions for using either dried or canned beans, February 2014.) If you’re someone who might be inclined to turn up your nose at the mention of lima beans, stay with me for a minute here. I first made this soup with Florida Butter Beans
, (a type of heirloom
baby lima bean, also known as Calico Pole Beans) that I bought in San Francisco from Rancho Gordo Beans
. The Florida Butter Beans are creamy and delicious, and 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 recipe *must* have 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!
If you’re lucky enough to have some dried Florida Butter Beans
or another type of dried butter bean or large white bean, soak them at least 8 hours, then drain the beans. (These are actually Gigantes beans, which would also be good in this soup.)
If you have 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 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 started with 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. This one made by Goya is my favorite brand, but otherss I’ve used include Penzeys
, Better Than Bouillon, or Knorr ham flavor base. (All these are relatively high in sodium so use sparingly or avoid if you’re limiting your sodium intake.)
When the dried beans are nearly soft, add the 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.
Here’s how my soup looked after it had simmered more and was ready to eat.
And just for fun, here’s the original photo of this soup from 2007. As you can see, the Rancho Gordo butter beans are darker than the butter beans I used this time, but both were delish!
Florida Butter Bean (or Lima Bean) Soup with Ham and Cabbage
(Makes about 6-8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn when she had Rancho Gordo Florida Butter Beans.)
1 lb. Rancho Gordo Florida Butter Beans or baby lima beans (or use 3 or 4 15-oz. cans of butter beans if you can’t find dried 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 or Penzeys ham flavor base, to taste (optional, but recommended if you want more ham flavor)
2 cups finely chopped green cabbage
2 cups finely diced ham (If you have a ham bone or some pieces of rind, by all means use them and remove when you serve the soup.)
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 Penzeys ham flavor base (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.
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South Beach Suggestions:
Dried beans are approved for all phases of the 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.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn’t have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Recipes Using Butter Beans or Large White Beans:
(Recipes from other blogs may not be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Ottolenghi’s Fried Beans with Sorrel, Feta, and Sumac ~ David Lebovitz
Spanish Chicken Baked with Butter Beans, Chorizo, and Olives ~ Cook Sister
Southern Butter Beans ~ Never Enough Thyme
This recipe was first posted for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona from the charming blog Briciole