Lima Bean Soup

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The Heart of New England
Lima Bean Soup
By Charlie Burke

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This lima bean soup has a good mix of flavors – the nutty soft taste of baby
lima beans mixes well with the smoky turkey and the slight background heat
of cayenne.

Easy to make and low in fat,
Lima Bean Soup makes a comforting winter
meal, especially after the rich meals of the holidays. The recipe has been on an
index card in the recipe box for years, so I have no idea of its origin, but I think
it is quite old. It uses dried baby lima beans, so soaking them over night is
necessary, and the time required to cook them is important in developing the
flavor of the soup.

In buying dried beans, buy this year’s crop; beans stored longer than a year
deteriorate and require longer cooking. A surprising number of farmers dry
their beans and seeking them out is well worth the effort; otherwise, buy from
a natural food store or a cooperative where turnover is high and beans and
grains are more likely to be fresh.

This recipe calls for smoked turkey which is lower in fat than smoked ham,
but good smoked ham can be substituted. We recently ordered a ham and
smoked turkey breast from
Harrington’s Smoke House in Vermont.  They use
corn cobs to smoke their meat, resulting in a mild smoky flavor which I find to
be just about perfect, and their bacon is not to be missed. In this recipe the
turkey yielded just the right amount of flavor and stood up well to being
cooked for over one hour.

Four meal size servings:

1 pound dried baby lima beans, soaked over night
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 small – medium onions, finely chopped
½ pound smoked turkey in a thick slice, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock, plus 1 qt water (or use all water)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

½ cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated Romano of Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a pot and sauté onions and carrots until softened. Add bay leaf and
cayenne and cook another minute or so. Drain and rinse beans and add to pot
along with the turkey, stock and water. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a
simmer. Check beans at one hour and every 10 minutes until they are soft.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula mash some beans against the side of the pot,
stirring until soup is slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, put soup in oven proof bowls and top with the mixed crumbs and
cheese. Place under broiler until topping is golden brown and serve garnished
with the chopped parsley. With a green salad and crusty bread this makes a
healthy and satisfying winter meal.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is
the vice president of the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association (
www. and helps run the Sanbornton Farmers' Market. Along with his
wife, Joanne, he grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
Lima Bean Soup
The Heart of New England
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