December 29th, 2009

Christmas-Chestnut Inspiration, with limas?

2 limas hero

Here’s a tale of food blogging interconnections….

I have been reading a most splendid foodblog written by a British woman living in Rome; please go meet rachel of rachel eats. Several of her December posts featured Chestnuts in marvelous incarnations–pâte, soup, cake. Both her pictures and prose really got me longing for them, in some fashion. Alas, with other holiday goings-on, I never got ’round to chestnut hunting.

But I did read the small print on my brand new bag of Christmas Lima Beans from Rancho Gordo, where it mentioned that they were also called Chestnut Limas, due to their exquisite chestnutlike flavor. For those of you who may not know about Rancho Gordo, these are the guys growing all manner and form of wondrous heirloom beans, sought out by fine chefs across the country. And, they make it pretty darn easy for you to get them, too. (a favored stocking stuffer in this household…)

rancho gordo lady

I discovered them through another blogger,
claudia of the esteemed cookeatFRET, through whom, I believe, is also how I found rachel.

So here we come full circle. Rancho Gordo’s Christmas Limas, made into this simple stewy-soup influenced by two foodbloggers, satisfied my two desires: I got to cook up these festive heirlooms during festive times, and I got to have a tasty hint of chestnut.

Trust me, these full-bodied, creamy limas will dispel any unpleasant notions and ill childhood memories of the others, (those awful starchbomb Fordhooks that make me shudder and quease now as I type.)

The pity that Christmas Limas do not retain their gorgeous color and mottling as they cook is replaced by the pleasure of their rich flavor.
Indeed, they have a layer of chestnuttiness…..

You could make this recipe more elaborate, with the addition of something meaty, like mushrooms, pancetta, or spicy chorizo—but there is enough serious-goodness inherent in this already very meaty bean. Keeping it simple best showcases that.

Thanks and shoutouts to foodblogging sisters rachel and claudia for sharing great information and sparking inspiration.

soaking limas

Christmas (Chestnut) Lima Bean Soup
2 T. Olive Oil
1 large Onion, diced
3 fat cloves of Garlic, minced
1 piece of red (or orange) sweet bell pepper, small dice
Sea Salt (about 1 t.)
Black Pepper (scattering of cracked )
Red Pepper Flakes almost 1/4 t.–could be as little as a pinch
1 cup Christmas Lima Beans
4 cups vegetable stock, or water, or combination

The night before: place one cup limas into a pot and cover with filtered water. Limas will more than double in size. Drain, but reserve soaking liquid.

comparison

The day of:
In a deep saucepot, saute onions, pepper, and garlic in olive oil until the onions are translucent, with edges beginning to brown. Season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir in drained limas, then add reserved liquid, then stock/water. Stir well and bring to just under a boil—a rolling simmer. Let this cook along uncovered for about two hours, stirring occasionally. The limas will soften, yield creaminess, giving this soup a thick velvet texture. As the beans cook, the liquid can get very thick. But, it’s so forgiving; if you want it thinner, just stir in some more water.

Makes 4 servings.

sauteeing 1

Simple elements form the base: garlic, onion, sweet pepper. This is what I had on hand. A little chopped leek or celery would be nice, if you’ve got it.

sauteeing 2

Letting the beans roll around in the saute before adding liquid is a very good idea.

chestnut lima soup

I am crazy about this color.
For a heartier meal, serve over rice, garnish with arugula.

closeup red

I like to place a clump of arugula on top of the rice, and then spoon the Christmas Limas over—collapsing the greens. Delicious.

Posted in Recipes, Soups/Stews, Vegan

7 Responses to “Christmas-Chestnut Inspiration, with limas?”
  1. rachel Says:

    The interconnecting, the ripple of ideas and the web companionship of food blogging is wonderful, I’m proud to be your blog sister.
    As for the soup, lovely – I’m so happy to live in Italy where beans and bean soups like this are prized and eaten weekly by many families. I think pasta could work here for a christmas pasta e fagioli.
    Onwards to the new year
    rachel

  2. veg head Says:

    I love Rancho Gordo beans—and the fact that they are preserving and cultivating these many heirlooms.
    I will seek out the Christmas limas. They look beautiful.

  3. Wendy Says:

    The Doctor will be in heaven!!!

  4. Christine@ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    This chestnut lima bean soup looks incredible! I love the photo of the hydrated and dry lima bean. It’s amazing how much water these beans soak up. I’ll have to stock up on Rancho Gordo the next time I’m in the bay area.

  5. patti Says:

    this looks delicious and healthy! after all the heavy eating I’ve been enjoying this holiday season, I’m looking forward to just eating good soups.

  6. Leisa Hammett Says:

    I’ve always loved the colorfulness of dried beans. Loved that photo.

  7. Annakate Says:

    I had the pleasure of seeing the hilarious Steve Sando speak at IACP a few years ago. I tried his “eye of the goat” and had fun playing around with them in the kitchen. Check out my blog post here: http://laaguacate.blogspot.com/2009/08/rancho-gordo-heirloom-beans.html

    Love the blog, Nancy!



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