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Baby lima bean soup w/chipotle pepper

January 12, 2015


This soup falls under the category of “Soups made several times the past 2 weeks”.  What makes it for me is the great natural pairing of  the creamy “sweet”  baby lima beans with the smoky spicy flavor of the chipotle pepper.   I keep the ingredients for this soup to a minimum to let the two main components shine.   I didn’t know this,  but lima beans are native to Peru.   I always associated lima beans with southern U.S. cooking so I never made the connection of the name to the country of origin.   They are nowhere to be seen in Tex-Mex cuisine and I couldn’t tell you how pervasive they are in Mexico.  What’s confusing are the various names it is called in Spanish.   I’ve come across a couple of Mexican soup recipes using “habas”,  which they translate into “favas”.  Yet a bag of “Baby Lima Beans” I bought  also had “Habas Pequenas” in the title.  Fava beans I’m familiar with are a different shape,  have a much “meatier” flavor to them,  and sometimes require removing the skin.  Among other names,  lima beans are known as Judias Blancas,  frijol blanco,  and frijol de media luna.



1 # dry baby lima beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium size carrot peeled

1 medium size celery stalk

1/2 medium size yellow onion

3 cloves garlic

8 cups vegetable stock or water (or a combination of both)

1 bay leaf

1/8 heaping teaspoon dried thyme

1 tsp. salt

1 to 3 seeded chipotle peppers in adobo (to taste)






Wash and sort through the beans.   Dice the carrot,  celery,  and onion into medium dice pieces.  Mince the garlic cloves.  Get your soup pot hot over medium high heat and add the olive oil.   Saute the vegetables for a minute or so to sweat.  Add the vegetable stock and/or water along with the baby lima beans.  Bring to a boil,  lower to a good simmer and cover the pot.   Cook until done.  This will take at least 2 hours but check from time to time to see how they are coming along.  They should be just tender.  Add more stock if necessary during the cooking.

When the beans are done,  remove the bay leaf.  With a hand immersion blender,  puree the beans until the soup is smooth.  A food processer will also work.  Add the 1 or 2 seeded chipotle pepper with some of the adobo sauce and puree.  You may choose to remove some of the beans during the pureeing and return them to the puree to give some texture to the finished soup.  Adjust with stock  if necessary to reach your desired thickness.  You may also wish to blend in more of the chipotle pepper.  Season with more salt to taste.

Notes: Because I didn’t give the beans an overnight soak, or a quick soak,  they took a while to cook. Just be sure to adjust your cooking time if you soak the beans.

For more smoky flavor, I remove the seeds of the chipotle so that I can add more of the chiles.  If you are unfamiliar with chipotle peppers en adobo, you can find them canned in many supermarkets nowadays.  The above photo shows the chipotle pepper along with a fresh jalapeno pepper,  its raw counterpart.

Using all vegetable stock gave the soup a richer taste, while using water allowed for the flavor of the beans to come out more.  I also liked using 4 cups of each.  Flavoring with vegetable bouillon is another option.



This bowl was garnished with fried tortilla strips,  epazote,  and pan roasted and ground dry chipotle pepper.  The added dry chipotle gave a little more heat but also a more intense smoky flavor.  The gorditas (at left) made a great accompaniment.  Of course,  gorditas are normally stuffed with various ingredients but these simple plain ones went just fine with the soup. Stay tuned for an upcoming recipe.





14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2015 2:01 am

    Niiiice! Yeah man I gonna try this, this week! , Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  2. January 12, 2015 2:13 am


  3. January 12, 2015 9:55 pm

    This looks so appetising, Gerard – I really must look up what lima beans are in UK English!

  4. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    January 14, 2015 5:10 pm

    I never thought of lima beans originating from Peru either! It makes sense, Lima, the capitol of Peru! Since the weather was so cold this past week, I made chili soup with chipotle peppers in adobo. I ate the last bowl last night although I still saved one bowl in the freezer for when I don’t feel like cooking or when I get tired of eating the same thing every night since I made a big pot of the soup. I always forget to add bay leaves to anything. I wish I could find fresh bay leaves instead of dried. I’ve chewed on the dry ones just to see if they have any flavor and I don’t get anything out of them. I’d like to grow my own if it’s possible. Great photos Gerard!

  5. January 14, 2015 9:10 pm

    Chipotle seems to goes well with a lot of things, the dry ones even go with chocolate. They show up a lot in my cooking though I try not to over use them.
    I never have enjoyed eating chili, especially since meat is off my diet. It’s a big item in Texas. The most famous cook-off is in Terlingua.
    I have the same game plan as you in making a pot of soup that will last a week, skipping a couple of days to break up the monotony or adding to it as the week progresses.
    I like to chew the bay leaf after its done simmering in the soup. But yes, fresh leaves are hard to come by.
    Stay warm!

  6. January 14, 2015 9:32 pm

    What a beautiful soup!

  7. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    January 31, 2015 5:24 pm

    Gerard, do you have any suggestions for using refried beans? I like the consistency of them and I know they are good for you but I don’t know many uses for them. Thanks!

    • January 31, 2015 7:09 pm

      Hi Marcella! That’s a good question for me as well since going vegan. I use refried beans as a filling (or topping) for quesadillas, burritos, tacos, nachos, chalupas, and gorditas. If you’re not familiar with gorditas, they are somewhat like a small fat corn tortilla split open and filled with items you might put in a taco. You can see them in the first or last photo above. I’ve been making many gorditas recently and hope to write about it soon. Other than as a filling or a side dish, nothing else comes to mind for pinto beans. Refried black beans of course are a good substitute. (I made some this morning). Pinto beans are not as versatile in my opinion as other kinds of beans, yet the refried ones are such a staple in Mexican food. I’ve been trying out other kinds of beans lately like favas or limas to see how they adapt to Mexican or Tex-Mex food. If you think of another way to enjoy pinto beans, let me know!

  8. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    February 6, 2015 6:32 pm

    I’ll look forward to your post. I don’t see much, if anything, about gorditas. I bought a package of corn tortillas so I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’re good. I recently made my own barbeque sauce which turned out very good and have been putting it on chicken so I will probably fill my tortilla with the refried beans and some of the chicken. I’ll be making that tonight!

    • February 10, 2015 9:36 pm

      Gorditas are not to hard to make, in fact, once you get the routine down, they are easier to do than corn tortillas. They are not as delicate to make and are very tasty even without a filling. Your taco combination almost sounds like a Mexican sandwich in which you first put a layer of refried beans, then your main filling plus condiments! The sandwich rolls, called teleras, are another bread on my list.
      I hope you’re having a good week!

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