March 7, 2010

Creamy Limas & Beans

Today's topic, er, sermon should be called Beans, Class and Gas.

You see, I grew up on a farm and we cooked with dried beans a lot, at least in the winter months. As soon as the crops from local farmers came in, we were in hog heaven with fresh produce and vegetables. What we could not eat, we canned or froze for later use. And, when those ran out, we started enjoying dried beans again. I have never thought of dried beans as being a food contingent to any certain class of people. The association to me is just wrong. This is what we ate, it is what our cooks prepared for us and it is what we enjoyed. So when I hear remarks like, dried beans are for the lower class, it chaps my ... well, you know. It's just wrong.

large limas
I use dried beans now more than ever. To me, they cook so much better than canned ones not to mention are more affordable. One type I have not cooked in a long time is the large white lima bean. Actually, I have never cooked it myself but I grew up eating large limas. I was taught to add baking soda to the water as the beans soaked in helping to neutralize enzymes. One of my favorite friends helped to concur or at least offer advice as to why we do this. Divina, see her Sense and Serendipity blog, uses cider vinegar and I learned from her that in addition to the acidity, warmth and time is essential in proper soaking. These three components will mitigate the effects of phytic acid and will enable our bodies to fully absorb the vital minerals. Get the know-how and reasoning from her past post, Maximizing the Nutrient Value of Beans and Legumes.

In cooking today's meal, I used the ham bone left over from the Mardi Gras Cajun Ham along with 5 or 6 good slices of that same ham. Oh, let me add folks, it has been in the freezer. I knew this was going to be good, I just didn't know how delicious it would turn out. The spice from the rub, the savory ham flavoring and a super rich stock with vegetables - oh man - this was some good eating. I also added a second type of bean, to aid in the creamy texture. This recipe would make a great side dish for Sunday dinner or go solo as we did, along with cornbread muffins. The last six ingredients are added just in case you don't have this particular ham bone in your freezer. It is what I will use the next, and soon, time I make this. Enjoy!

creamy limas & pearls with ham
Creamy Limas & Beans

1 -16 oz bag dried large limas
1 -16 oz bag dried white kidney beans, pearl haricot, or great northern
1 tablespoon cidar vinegar
2 quarts water
1 quart chicken stock
1 large onion, quartered
2 carrots, cut in half
2 ribs of celery, cut in half
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 bay leaf
ham bone, ham hocks or cured meats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
black pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight or at least 12 hours by adding warm (140 degrees F) water and the vinegar in a large container. A good rule of thumb is to add at least twice the amount of water as beans. Keep beans well covered with water.

In a large stockpot, add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for an hour. Remove ham or meat to incorporate it back in later. 
I like to let the stock simmer another few hours or so on low. Strain the stock discarding the vegetables and bones. Drain the beans and add to the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the beans are tender. Add ham back into the stock the last half-hour.

Note: I like to let the beans simmer on low until they are almost broken down which produces a creamy vegetable dish. Good by itself as a chowder type meal or as a soup with added chicken stock. Some folks add a stick of butter to make it richer and creamy while others add heavy cream.


  1. Interesting flavors in this dish, could taste and smell the butter in it in my head, love the creaminess...

  2. What a great comfort dish. With all of the herbs and spices you included, I'm guessing this is filled with flavor

  3. I love this recipes! It sounds delicious and I enjoyed reading the post.
    Have a wonderful day~

  4. Mmmm, beans with cornbread is REAL comfort food to me. One of the only times growing up that I got to taste any real old family recipe was when we visited my great grandmother and she made bean soup over cornbread with onions on top, and also her fried chicken. Ooooh, momma. (If her ghost were to appear and cook that chicken I would eat it, despite not having even meat for over a decade!) Great recipe!!

  5. "beans, class and gas" you have me cracking up!

    I do love lima beans though and they were always a childhood favorite.

  6. Love me some beans, we just cooked up a pot of black beans on Sunday for a couple of recipes, last week we cooked up some pinto beans, and the week before that we cooked up a pot of split peas. Beans are healthy, cheap, and easy to cook.
    Thanks Drick!