I have discovered why people don't like lima beans. It has nothing to do with their flavor. They are delicious. It has nothing to do with their texture, which is rich and smooth and buttery. It is not their coloring—they are lookers, mottled green and purple. The beans themselves are lovely.
But their pods. Their pods are frustrating. Trying to open them to get the beans is like trying to open an envelope along the top seam with nothing but fingers with no nails. You need a knife, a letter opener, something. Shucking lima beans is terribly, terribly time-consuming.
It's a good thing the beans inside are so tasty. It's also a good thing I stumbled on this recipe for lima bean soup with chipotle and onions, because I had never before cooked a lima bean, and after spending Sally's entire afternoon nap shelling our harvest, I was not about to make some bowl of overcooked mushy inedible beans.
The soup was delicious. It was smoky and buttery and thin, but in a good way. The fresh limas warmed into smooth, rich nuggets, and the onion ribbons infused the broth with butter and chipotle. We devoured it with this cornbread and this cabbage.
Afterward, I looked at my tiny jar of saved lima seeds. I am still not sure I will plant them in the spring. But after tasting this soup, I will at least let them overwinter. We'll see.
FRESH LIMA BEAN SOUP WITH ONIONS AND CHIPOTLE
I got the idea for this soup over here. I had to make some serious changes, though, because 1) my lima beans were fresh and 2) I had no access to chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I also used chicken stock, because a soup like this based on water frankly didn't sound that good. I'm not sure how different my version is from the original, but I can tell you that it's easy to make (at least once you've shelled the limas) and delicious.
1 head garlic, un-peeled, but with the top lopped off
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 and teaspoon fine grain sea salt plus more to taste
1 large onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons chipotle seasoning (I used a rub)
1 and 1/2 pounds shelled fresh lima beans
Combine the garlic, chicken stock, and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes. Remove the garlic and squeeze the cloves (they will be mushy!) into the broth. Throw the skin in the compost.
In a large pot, warm up the butter over medium heat. Add the salt, onion, and chipotle and sauté, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes. Add the garlic stock and the lima beans, turn the heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes, until the beans are tender and the broth is infused with flavor. Serve hot.