Now, Pam, if you are reading, brace yourself. I have been cooking with lima beans again.
I have a bit of a thing for an underdog, and I think that lima beans are often given a bad rap. They respond just like other dried beans, with perhaps a more grassy flavour. And, just like other beans, mushrooms, and eggplants, lima beans make a great canvas whatever flavours you are cooking with.
I know that your mother, or grandma or home ec teachers may have served you a boiled-to-death pile of steaming gray mass and claimed it was lima beans, I had that same thing happen to me with my grandma's broccoli. But cooked properly, lima beans have a nice, slightly al dente texture that gives a good meatiness to a vegetarian meal.
Speaking of good foods, this recipe for Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth is from Super Natural Cooking by foodie blogger Heidi Swanson. A wonderful book for introducing new, healthy flavour combinations to your repertoire. I highly recommend it.
This soup is spicy, flavourful and filling. It paired nicely with some simple buttermilk biscuits that I had made earlier in the day, but a rustic peasant loaf or some cornbread would also be nice.
Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth - Super Natural Cooking, Heidi Swanson
1 pound dried baby lima beans, picked over and rinsed
10 cups water
1 head garlic, top lobbed off to expose the cloves and loose skins removed
2 tablespoons olive oil or clarified butter
1 onion, halved top to bottom and sliced into thin crescents
1 to 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
Squeeze of lime juice (optional)
Instructions - Heidi Swanson
Pick over the beans, looking carefully for any pebbles or dirt clumps; baby limas seem to be magnets for dirt. Rinse the beans, then combine them with the water and garlic in a heavy soup pot. You might think putting a whole head of unpeeled garlic in the pot is strange, but just go with it. Bring the beans to an active simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until just a touch al dente and not mushy or falling apart. Test their doneness by tasting; you really can't tell any other way.
Heat the olive oil (or butter) in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, chipotles, and 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce, and sauté over medium high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, just until the onion starts to soften. You can always add more adobo sauce later for a spicier soup; just don't overdo it on the front end.
Add the salt and the onion-chipotle mix to the pot of beans and simmer gently for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors. The broth should be thin, so add more water if needed. Add more salt and more adobo a bit at a time if the flavors aren't popping. Finish with a squeeze of lime if you like. I usually remove the garlic head at this point or serve around it.