Make Ahead

Grandmama's Butter Bean Soup

October 21, 2013
1 Ratings
Photo by Family photo
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

My grandmother used to make this butterbean soup to fill up our hungry stomachs after school. She died this year, but in my mind I can still walk into her house, smell the soup on the stove and then watch her, standing at her old gas stove, ladling me a warm bowl of this delicious soup. —Sarah Elton

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons oil of your choice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 2 spears of celery, diced
  • 1 bouquet garni (or your own choice of herbs like rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage.)
  • 8 cups stock--turkey or chicken, homemade is best
  • 1 cup giant lima beans or butterbeans, soaked overnight
  1. To make my grandmother's soup, heat the oil in a large pot and slowly brown the onions.
  2. When the onions are nicely browned, add the carrots, potatoes and celery and cook on low heat for about five minutes. Cover the pot with a lid but check periodically to make sure the veggies aren't sticking.
  3. Add the herbs, or the bouquet garni, and stir while you cook for about a minute more.
  4. You will have soaked the beans overnight and they will have more than doubled in size, their tight skins stretching over their expanding flesh. Strain any excess water and add them to the pot, quickly followed by the stock. (By quickly, I mean don't leave them to cook for long before adding the stock, but don't feel too rushed either.)
  5. Cover and simmer until the beans are cooked through, soft and buttery--there's a reason they are called butter beans! This will take at least an hour, but likely more.
  6. Salt to taste.

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Sarah Elton is the author of Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet published by the University of Chicago Press and Locavore. Her new book for people 10 years plus, titled Starting from Scratch: Everything you need to know about food and cooking, will be published in March.

2 Reviews

Terran D. December 1, 2020
Just the soup I'm looking for on this nippy December 1 afternoon!
Meredith S. October 4, 2020
Love your voice in the directions of this recipe! Gotta make this :)