Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth Recipe

Made from just five ingredients, this is a vibrant, chipotle-spiked, brothy soup that requires minimal babysitting. The dainty baby lima beans soften up in about an hour without any pre-soaking or fuss.

Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth

I suspect that one of my favorite recipes from Super Natural Cooking is a tad bit neglected, overlooked. It lives unassumingly on page 144, has no seductive photograph flanking it, and has the word lima in the title. It was a recipe originally shared with me by my pal Amanda Berne, in the middle of the day, in a Mexican grocery store in San Francisco's Mission District. We were surrounded by beans and dried chiles, flanked by towers of steaming, freshly made tortillas. Amanda can mount a compelling argument for a recipe she is fond of, and I tend to listen to her. This soup quickly became a regular in my kitchen. Made from just five ingredients, it is a vibrant, chipotle-spiked, brothy soup that requires minimal babysitting. The dainty baby lima beans soften up in about an hour without any pre-soaking or fuss.

Baby Lima Soup Recipe

You can find chipotles in adobo sauce in the Mexican-foods section of most markets. They lend a spicy, smoky, assertive flair that's nicely balanced by the beans and regal reddish gold broth.

Those of you interested in my weekend trip to Portland, Oregon can read the details and see a few pics I uploaded.

101 Cookbooks Membership

Premium Ad-Free membership includes:
-Ad-free content
-Print-friendly recipes
-Spice / Herb / Flower / Zest recipe collection PDF
-Weeknight Express recipe collection PDF
-Surprise bonuses throughout the year

spice herb flower zest
weeknight express

Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth

1 pound dried baby lima beans, picked over and rinsed
10 cups water
1 head garlic, top lobbed off to expose the cloves and loose skins removed
2 tablespoons olive oil or clarified butter
1 onion, halved top to bottom and sliced into thin crescents
1 to 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt

Squeeze of lime juice (optional)

Pick over the beans, looking carefully for any pebbles or dirt clumps; baby limas seem to be magnets for dirt. Rinse the beans, then combine them with the water and garlic in a heavy soup pot. You might think putting a whole head of unpeeled garlic in the pot is strange, but just go with it. Bring the beans to an active simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until just a touch al dente and not mushy or falling apart. Test their doneness by tasting; you really can't tell any other way.

Heat the olive oil (or butter) in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, chipotles, and 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce, and sauté over medium high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, just until the onion starts to soften. You can always add more adobo sauce later for a spicier soup; just don't overdo it on the front end.

Add the salt and the onion-chipotle mix to the pot of beans and simmer gently for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors. The broth should be thin, so add more water if needed. Add more salt and more adobo a bit at a time if the flavors aren't popping. Finish with a squeeze of lime if you like. I usually remove the garlic head at this point or serve around it.

Serves 6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Comments are closed.

Apologies, comments are closed.


I have been reading this blog for months. I only now realized that it doesn't include meat. . .


This recipe isn't ignored in my house! It's a biweekly standard, at least... I always add a bit of cumin, however, and some lime leaves when I don't have lime. The whole-head-of-garlic trick really jives with my lots-of-garlic MO and peeling/chopping laziness. Thanks Heidi!


Lemme your description, it sounds like the two of you were standing in the La Palma Mexicatessen (24th & Florida) when discussing this recipe. Speaking of fresh, steaming tortillas—some crushed tortilla chips would make a great topping...

J. Brandon Loberg

Just made it today. I added a little Cumin to get it off the ground. Very good recipe..


Oh YUM! Chipotle and limas are two of my favorites. Ok, I'm a bit strange but baby limas evoke fond childhood food memories and 20+ years in San Diego cultivated my love for all chiles. This lovely soup is on my menu for next week. Today I have a lovely golden carrot and cauliflower soup simmering away in the crockpot. I had a couple of ripe pears and a persimmon that joined the veggies along with a generous amount of ginger to make it sweet/spicy. It'll be ready for my hand blender when I get home. Ahh, winter... /smile


Mmm, this sounds good -- and since I've been looking for more bean soup options, it's one I'm looking forward to trying. I imagine the garlic would be all nice and soft after simmering in the soup pot for so long, and although it wouldn't have the rich flavor of roasted garlic, I imagine it would still have some good garlic-y-ness, so I'm visualizing toasting up some nice robust bread, smearing it with the "extra" cloves of soft garlic, and serving alongside the soup... Ever given that at try?


This is a great recipe. I also have made this recipe with corn and chickpeas. I sautee the chickpeas until they are crunchy, then add them to the soup.

Atticus Basilhoff

Guilty as charged. I never noticed this in SNC! But it sounds simple and delicious just like all your recipes tend to be. Thanks!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

Sigh Lima beans? Mexican ingredients? I'm on the wrong side of the planet for this, but it looks gorgeous. I adore bean soups, especially this time of year. I make them in the crock pot. But this one is going to take some clever substitutions, some other kind of bean for baby limas - the Turkish shop is the best place for beans in my area. I do know where I can get dried chipotles, but could you tell me what the other ingredients are in there? I remember a spice mixture called something like adobe criollo or something like that from my youth in Miami. I wonder if the adobe sauce is similar, seems to me garlic and cumin were major ingredients.


Emily: I put them in glass (a recycled jar from capers or something), stick 'em in the fridge, and they last indefinitely. Heidi--Chipotle! I love my peppers, winter, spring, fall, summer...they warm you up when it's cold and make the air feel cooler when it's 115 here in the desert. Great idea--can't wait to try it.


I haven't cooked with chipotle peppers before; do they stay whole in the soup? This looks perfect for dinner tonight, and I'll definitely be adding the squeeze of lime!


This soup looks so soothing, and warm, and yummy!


what's the best way to store leftover chipotle peppers and adobe sauce?


I already love it. I do a similar soup with grains, this would be a great alternative when I need more protien.


this one sounds lovely! just the thing for our cooler temps!


It's a staple at my house ever since a friend lent me Super Natural Cooking. It couldn't be simpler or more satisfying.


I already have most of the ingredients in my pantry to make this soup over the weekend. It was just what I needed on a tight budget. Thank you!

Contessa (foodie from phoenix)

This soup looks yummy, I've got chipotle in adobe sauce sitting in my freezer. Could I substitue another bean for the baby lima beans? I don't think I've seen baby lima beans in the stores down here, but I do have dried chick peas, think that would work? Mandy


i just made this recipe earlier in the week after looking at the cookbook. it was every bit as good as promised - couldn't believe how much flavor the adobo sauce added! i did like adding lime juice at the end. i had it for lunch the next day with a little cous-cous mixed in.


This looks so easy, and sounds delish! Think I'll try it over the weekend.


Comments are closed.

Apologies, comments are closed.

More Recipes

101cookbooks social icon
Join my newsletter!
Weekly recipes and inspirations.

Popular Ingredients

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of its User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

101 Cookbooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Any clickable link to on the site is an affiliate link.