Succotash Soup with Garlicky Cornbread Croutons

Yield: 4-6 servings

Succotash, a Native American dish consisting primarily of lima beans and corn, has been reinterpreted by Southern African Americans with a number of bean, vegetable, and meat combinations. Here chef and author Bryant Terry remixes the simplest version of this dish by making a tasty pureed soup. He says that while you can get away with using frozen lima beans for this dish, using fresh corn-off-the-cob is essential. Enjoy it during the summer months when corn is at its freshest.


  • 2 cups fresh baby lima beans, rinsed (use frozen if fresh are unavailable)
  • 10 cups cold water
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 4 large ears yellow corn, shucked, kernels scraped, cobs reserved
  • ¼ cup plus ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • White pepper
  • Garlicky Cornbread Croutons (see below)


In a medium-size saucepan, combine the beans with the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the beans are slightly tender. Add 1 teaspoon salt and simmer for 5 more minutes. Drain the cooking liquid into a bowl, set the beans aside, and add the liquid back to the saucepan.

To make a broth, cut the corncobs into thirds, add them to the bean liquid, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. With a slotted spoon, remove the corncobs from the liquid to a compost pail.

While the broth is simmering: In a medium-size sauté pan over medium-low heat, combine the olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the onions, and sweat for 15 minutes, until the onions are softened. Set aside ⅓ cup of corn kernels and add the rest to the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender.

Transfer the corn-onion mixture to the broth. Add the cooked beans. Over high heat, bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 more minutes, until the corn is done.

Remove from heat, stir in 2 tablespoons of the parsley, and puree in small batches in an upright blender. Strain through a medium-mesh strainer to remove tough corn skins. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Preheat broiler. In a small bowl, toss the reserved corn kernels with ½ teaspoon of olive oil. Transfer kernels to a 9-inch pie pan or comparable receptacle. Place the corn about 3 inches from the heat and broil until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring a few times with a spoon.

If necessary, warm up the soup, then ladle it into bowls, sprinkle roasted corn kernels and Garlicky Cornbread Croutons (see below) on top, and garnish with the remaining parsley.


Garlicky Cornbread Croutons

Bryant Terry writes: ”In the spirit of recycling and reusing, I take leftover cornbread and make crunchy croutons that I add to soups and salads.”

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large leftover pieces of your favorite cornbread cut into ½-inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a medium-size sauté pan, combine the olive oil and the garlic. Turn the heat to medium-low and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, gently toss together the cornbread and the garlic oil. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake, shaking the pan a few times, until the croutons are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.


As with other legumes, lima beans are a great source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. The beans are also purported to have several other health benefits.


Bryant Terry is a chef, food justice activist, and author of three books. His interest in cooking, farming, and community health can be traced back to his childhood in Memphis, Tennessee, where his grandparents inspired him to grow, prepare, and appreciate good food.

Since graduating from culinary school, Terry’s guiding mantra has been, “Start with the visceral, move to the cerebral, and end at the political.” He says that because so many people are detached from having pleasurable experiences with wholesome, fresh food, empowering people to cook at home and share meals with family and friends is a revolutionary first step toward food justice. More about Terry >>

Recipe from Bryant Terry’s book Vegan Soul Kitchen. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. © 2009.

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