Let me preface this by stating that as a stand alone vegetable, I think the lima bean sucks. I’ve never tasted anything that accompanied them on a plate that made them remotely palatable and I don’t care if they came from a can, were previously frozen or were picked right off the vine.
However, before all you lima bean lovers jump all over my shit, hear me out. When mixed with the right ingredients for soup, the lima bean takes on a whole new existence. Even the smell of it harkens me back to my boyhood days when Mama Borgo would mix up a batch of this stuff on the stove (we didn’t have a crock pot) and the aroma would float through the house and linger for days. Quite simply, it was delicious and I’ve added a few twists and turns to her original recipe to enhance some of the flavor and texture.
Here’s what you need
Nothing fancy here. Most, if not all of the ingredients can be found in your local grocery store so there’s no need to go to any specialty shops.
1 medium size smoked ham shank – Mama Borgo used to use ham hocks but quite frankly, the effort of pulling off what little meat is on the hock itself isn’t worth the effort. Baby Borgo likes his soup with lots and lots of meat!
8 ounce of dried lima beans – You can either soak them overnight to get them tender or do like I do, toss ‘em in the crock pot and let the heat do the work.
1 medium sized onion – chopped.
Carrots – Your choice – if you feel like expending the effort you can peel and chop a couple yourself or you can take the easy way out and throw a handful of baby carrots in . I choose the easy way out.
2 sticks of celery – chopped into slices
2 garlic cloves – smashed and chopped finely. Yeah, you can buy minced garlic and substitute it for the cloves but I get a certain degree of satisfaction in smashing some things all by myself.
1 quart of chicken stock – if you’re so inclined you can follow that link and make your own. I’m not that inclined so I just buy what’s on sale at my local grocery store.
Salt and pepper to taste. – I usually wait towards the end to add any combination since the ham and chicken stock usually have enough salt in them already and it’s tough to remove it once you’ve added it.
Here’s what you do
Step 1 - I’m assuming we all own or have access to the bachelors best friend.
Step 2 - Dump all that shit in there.
Step 3 - After about six or seven hours (on low) remove the ham shank and let it cool for a while. Once it’s cool enough to handle, remove the meat and return said meat to the crock pot with the rest of the soup.
Step 4 - Let it cook away for another couple of hours. Kill this time by quaffing down some of your favorite beverages.
Step 5 - Dig in - ladle some of the soup into large bowls, grab a spoon and savor what you have created. If you want to get fancy you can garnish it with some chopped parsley or something similar.
This should yield about eight to ten decent size servings and along with many other things, is often better the next day.
That’s about it. If the soup is hearty enough it can substitute for a meal and this makes an excellent companion to those cold days of winter.
One last thing I should mention before I sign off. For those of you who have sensitive stomachs, be prepared. For me, the next day the consequences of eating this soup can either be quite entertaining or embarrassing depending on your circumstances for it produces enough gas to power a small tractor. If you’re going to be at work stuck in a conference room for hours on end I’d recommend using some Beano or other similar product beforehand. If, on the other hand you’re going to be stuck at home and want to entertain your kids, neighbors or significant other, feel free to blast away.