Butter Bean Soup

If you’re like me, you’re looking forward to the rich and delicious treats that tempt us during the holidays. But with all of that yummy goodness comes an onslaught of calories and fat. How can we enjoy our decadent holiday snacks without overindulging? I’ve found that the best defense against those extra holiday pounds is to mix up my winter menu with light and tasty dishes. One of my favorite healthy entrees is Butter Bean Soup.

Soup? As an entree? Absolutely! My family often makes a meal out of soup, especially during the winter when it’s cold outside. There’s nothing better than a piping hot bowl of soup, loaded with vegetables, to fill you up without packing on the pounds. The calories you save here can be better spent on a holiday treat or two… latkes, anyone?

In case your wondering, butter beans are actually mature lima beans. They are referred to as both lima beans and butter beans depending on regional dialect. You can find them in the grocery store near the other dried legumes– they’re white and larger than the green lima beans you might be used to. I like to call them butter beans because the name is cute, and it makes me feel like I’m eating something rich and fatty (even though I’m not!).

I adore this soup. It’s warming, flavorful and satisfying; your house will smell amazing as it cooks. The salty, slightly tangy vegetable broth is packed with flavor thanks to the addition of tomatoes and fresh dill. My stepdaughter, who is particularly picky when it comes to food, asks me to make this soup for her a lot during the winter. At her request, I sometimes substitute potato chunks for butter beans. A combination of beans and potatoes would work great, too.

And even though it’s made with “butter beans,” this soup is completely dairy free and pareve. That means it would be perfect to serve at a Hanukkah dairy meal. So what are you waiting for? Get your soup on!

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Butter Bean Soup


  • 1 lb. dry butter beans (aka lima beans - you can sub cannellini or navy beans)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes (fire roasted ok)
  • 6 tbsp fresh chopped dill, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper
Servings: 8 servings
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Cover the dry beans with cold water and soak them overnight. Drain and rinse.
  • Alternatively, if you’re running short on time, you can quick soak the beans. To do this, in a medium pot bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add dry lima beans and boil for 3 minutes.
  • Remove pot from heat and allow the beans to soak in the hot water for 2 hours to soften.
  • Drain and rinse until water runs clear. Remove any bean skins that have come loose and discard.
  • In a large pot, heat up ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat till hot (not smoking). Add chopped onion to the pot and sauté for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the minced garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes more till fragrant.
  • Add carrot, celery, and soaked lima beans to the pot.
  • Cover the ingredients with 8 cups of water and bring to a slow boil for a few minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the top of the pot.
  • When foam dissipates, add the crushed tomatoes to the pot, along with ¼ cup of fresh chopped dill and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Let the soup simmer for 75-90 minutes till beans are nice and tender. If the soup becomes too thick while it’s cooking, add a little more water. Taste and season again towards the end of cooking, if needed.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and serve garnished with the remaining fresh dill.

Comments (25)Post a Comment

  1. Tori,
    Love the soup recipe, but I use canned beans (I do make my own vegetable stock, though). So how many cups of canned beans would I need?

    1. Hi Alice! I’ve never used canned beans to make this, but I would estimate that about 3 cups of beans would be right. You can add that much, and if it looks sparse feel free to add more!

  2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Tori, you adorable shiksa you,

    This recipe looks great as does your POTATO BHAJEE, which I will be making. This soup, I think I will add 1 cup of brown rice and let the rice cook and have an even heartier one-pot meal. I’ll let you know how it turns out. GOOD WORK. I’ve been sharing on FB and getting several “likes” so people are noticing.
    Thanks for your good stuff. Love your simple recipes and terrific pictures of each step.

    1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      The brown rice sounds fantastic. I have plenty of long grain brown rice, black beans and navy beans I could combine and use for this soup.

  3. It does look warm, we do love soup and grilled cheese dinners during the week and when it is so cold ! I love the fresh dill touch.
    Hope you are doing well! Hugs, Ilke

  4. Hi Tori,
    One more question: When I use the canned beans, how do I adjust cooking times, since the beans are already cooked? Thanks much!

    1. Hi Alice! Pour the canned beans in 10 minutes before the end of cooking, till they’re warmed through. They’re pretty soft, so you don’t want to overcook them– just give them enough time to get hot. :) Enjoy the soup!

    1. Hi Sonya, I’m guessing it probably will work, but I can’t promise because I’ve never tried it myself. If you try it let us know how it turns out for you!

  5. I have been cooking since I was 9. My mother, a dentist, was at best a diffident cook, so I took over cooking the family meals. Here it is, 43 years later, and I still love cooking. My teens rapturously eat anything I serve them. My husband also appreciates my cooking, and despite ‘hating’ eggplant has loved everything I have made for him that showcases that vegetable.

    Lima beans are a different story. Lima beans are the representation, to him, of the worst of his own mother’s out-of-a-can cooking. She was a busy nurse with 6 sons. Every vegetable she served her family was canned, with the exception of iceberg lettuce. Canned lima beans were, to him, like eating library paste.

    Having never been a significant part of my repertoire, I just skipped ever using them. But I suspect that I can begin curing him of his lima bean phobia by making savoury broad bean stews such as this.

    I am thinking–hoping–that canned lima beans have gone the way of other atrocities such as canned new potatoes!

  6. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I have a question regarding your Butter Bean Soup recipe.
    This recipe looks great and I can’t wait to make it. The recipe calls for a 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes , I only find “diced” tomatoes in the 14 oz size. The crushed tomatoes come in a 28 oz can. Which should I use? Thank you for any advice you can give me.

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hello Tory!

    I must say, I really really REALLY HATE celery!
    I’ve been trying for 20 years to learn to like it, but no-no-NOT! I can manage to put it in a green juice, but never ever else.

    Anyhow, I gave this a try since I rather enjoy butter beans a lot.

    Wow … I’m out of words!
    This soup is just Devine!

    Hands down for this! :)

    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

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