Chef Gary Heats Things Up with Grandma Stella’s Hungarian Lima Bean Soup

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This is one soup that will not let you down. It is the ultimate way to get the chill out and the dill out. Grandma Stella’s Lima Bean Soup will become your signature dish, as it was the most requested dish from Grandma’s kinderlach. It’s nothing like Italian pasta fagioli; this soup’s base is an einbrenne, which is an eastern European roux. A roux is equal parts flour and fat. It is used to thicken sauces and soups, and is prevalent in Creole, Cajun, and many classic French recipes. Its foundation comes from years of impoverished Hungarian Jews creating phenomenal food from sheer culinary talent. My mom, Grandma Stella, and Grandma Lotte filled their kitchens with flavor and their homes with love — the most important ingredient.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of lima beans, rinsed, soaked, and prepared per instructions on
    the box
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon high-quality paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil (add extra virgin oil for flavor)
  • 4 quarts of quality chicken stock (preferably homemade, but water can substitute)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time at the stove: 10 minutes
Soup cooking time: 2 hours


In a stockpot or a large, deep skillet on medium to medium-high heat, pour in the oil. Add the onion and sweat it; do not saute or brown it. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper.

When golden and translucent, slowly add the flour. Important: When adding the flour to the hot oil, fat, etc., use a low flame, sprinkle small amounts, and stir gradually. When all the flour is incorporated into the fat source, keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. The longer you stir, the darker the einbrenne (roux) becomes. There are white, blonde, brown, and deep brown rouxs. For this soup I prefer the white, though it’s fine if it gets blondish. The raw flour taste must be cooked out at this point. While adding flour, mix in some salt, pepper, and the paprika.

After about 3 or 4 minutes, when smooth and bubbly, add the stock. I prefer to add simmering stock, but you can use room temperature stock if you prefer. Do it slowly, stirring all the while. Bring it to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer.

Now, add the lima beans. If available, use a glass pot cover so you can see it, to make certain that the soup cooks properly. It needs to simmer, not boil, and not stop cooking either.

If the soup keeps cooking too fast, you can crack the cover open a smidge.

Medium or broad noodles go magically with this soup. Prepare the noodles per package instructions.

You can use chicken broth or clear soup instead of classic stock. The result is exactly the same. A quick note on chicken stock: Get a kosher chicken or parts, place it in a big pot, and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, skim off impurities. Then add an onion, celery, carrots, parsley, salt and pepper, and a clove or two of garlic. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 4 hours with the cover cracked a bit.

This soup will please your stomach and warm your heart.

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