Lima bean soup

Lima bean soup takes me back to my childhood days; my father smuggled in seeds of the green variety from America to South Africa. I find the pink-striped variety starchy and less tasty.

This page was updated on 21st October, 2023.

It only occurred to me recently that when parents plants a seed in the ground, they also set it deep into the psyche of their children. Is it any wonder that I am still passionate about legumes of many sorts and particularly every ilk of green bean that I can lay my hands on?

Limas remain one of my favourites; fresh from the garden.

Lima beans soup


I prefer them straight from the garden but you could use canned butter beans instead; not half as good, alas.

Drop a tablespoon of feta cheese into each nourishing bowl; then you can call it Greek lima bean soup.

This recipe combines the health of red onions, leeks and a sprinkle of chives on the top with a wholesome portion of vegetable protein; all those allicin benefits should help keep malignancies at bay.

I hunt for dishes that are highly nutritious but fall into what I call the slow food, made fast category. Start by making a vegetable stock from scraps.

  • 1 leek chopped.
  • One chopped onion, red are best.
  • One small slither of peppadew, chili or jalapeno if you like a little spice; include the seeds.
  • 1 cup of green lima beans, freshly picked and podded.
  • 1 cup of your favourite herby vegetables; celery, carrots, fennel etc.
  • Half a cup of deveined, washed spinach.
  • Half a cup of chicken bones bouillon; or a vegetable broth.
  • Water to achieve your desired thickness.
  1. Gently fry the onion, leeks and chili in a tablespoon of butter.
  2. Add the vegetables, keeping the heat on low; saute for a few minutes.
  3. Pod the lima beans, popping them directly into the pot.
  4. Add the frozen chicken broth; bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for about five minutes, until tender.
  5. Toss in the spinach; do wash the leaves thoroughly or you might find you are enjoying an escargot or frog's legs in your soup. I am not joking! Can you spot him in the graphic below? 
  6. By all means read my book, A Frog in my Throat but you don't want it literally!
  7. Season with salt and pepper.

In no more than half an hour, from start to finish you can have a delicious bowl of soup on the table; if you are of the habit of regularly making a  healthy bouillon rich in cartilage from chicken bones and freezing it. I abhor the cubes that are loaded with toxic chemicals; avoid them like the plague.

Man-made chemicals in food in general are strongly associated with metastatic disease.


  1. You could make this lima soup with dried beans but since I don't do it, finding it time-consuming and tedious and the flavour not half so good, you will have to search the web. Give them a long soak, rinsing several times to remove the lectins.
  2. This chicken bones broth is so easy to make and freeze; it's rich in cartilage for the well-being of your joints. Or use a vegetable bouillon.
  3. Squish a few of the lima-beans if you like it thicker.
  4. Enough for four bowls; add a tablespoon of feta cheese or thick cream.
  5. Sprinkle with freshly-picked chives.
  6. On the very low carbohydrate but high fat keto diet, use olive oil instead of butter and coconut cream in place of feta cheese to add more plant-based oils.
Freshly picked lima beans are best for this soup.


It's a good idea to wash your vegetables; those from the supermarket too.

A frog in your lima bean soup is not conventional.

Per 4 servings

Carbohydrate: 30g (beans) + 10g (veggies) = 40g

Fat: 11g (butter) + 1.4g (chicken stock) + 8g (feta) = 20g

Protein: 7g (limas) + 3g (chicken stock) + 5g (feta) = 15g

Per single serving

Carbohydrate: 10g

Fat: 5g

Protein: 4g

In short this lima bean soup is a well-balanced meal. Much of that carb is resistant starch; fibre that is not digested in the small intestine forming sugars. Instead it goes to sustain the microbiome in the GI.

Lima bean soup

Lima bean soup is a gem if you can grow them yourself as part of your urban agriculture project; from a can they are alas second best in taste but still high in nutrition.

Growing your own food in the garden is the only way you have control over the pesticides and other chemicals that are used commercially; and of course compost from your own heap instead of inorganic fertilisers.

We give meals like this lima bean soup the credit for not taking any drugs in our mid-seventies. We are disciples of Hippocrates; let your food be your medicine.

The joy of legumes in the garden is that they also provide nitrogen to the soil for the next crop. Rhizobia bacteria attach to the roots extracting the element from the air and enabling your peas and beans to synthesise amino acids; vegetable protein.

On a typical low carbohydrate, high fat meal-plan, 10g of starch falls easily within your limit of 130 grams per day.

On the very low ketogenic diet requiring less than 50g per day, it would only be marginally acceptable; half a cup would probably provide most of the phytochemicals and amino acids in your lima bean soup that you need for sparkling vitality.

5g of fat is not high but you could add more; or better still serve half an avocado on the side. Remember those from fruit are the most beneficial, being high in monounsaturated oils.

Understanding net carbs will help you get your mind around this very complex subject. Much of the starch in beans is resistant to the digesting enzymes, instead passing through to the colon, with little effect on blood-sugar.

So although your lima bean soup contains 10g of carb much of it is of little concern. In fact, that undigested starch is what the friendly bugs in the colon feed on; it's called a pre-biotic.


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Research reveals that those on a low carbohydrate diet lose more weight as compared to those on meagerly fat meals. They are less hungry[1]. It's all about the satiety that legumes provide.

Perhaps more importantly low carbohydrate, high fat diets reduce the use of medication in many diseases such as diabetes.

This lima bean soup has the advantage of replacing the calories lost from limiting starches with a vegetable-based protein. To reduce the animal fat, you would need to use olive oil for sauteing and coconut cream instead of feta cheese[2].

Onions: The allium family

Allicin is the phytochemical unique to the onion family; it gives you the tears in the eyes but keeps away those that come with malignant diseases. This lima bean soup is all about prevention.

Read more about allicin benefits.

Enjoy this good soup and the easy recipe; if you really like it and have the garden space, then I recommend you consider growing lima beans. They have a very long season but continue for months in a mild winter; it's July and we are still reaping.

Lima bean soup is also a good way to prevent a beta-carotene deficiency; nearly half a million children go blind every year because of it. Add a sweet potato for yet more.

Onions and lima beans are truly numbered amongst the supreme phytochemical foods.

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Hilton, KZN

South Africa