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It’s BEAN season (or actually the season for those dried beans that we should use up during the winter) and I don’t feel like I eat enough of them, which ideally would be at least once a week, whether they’re chickpeas or lentils or fancier mixes and my absolute favorite : giant LIMA BEANS (also called BUTTER BEANS in English and GIGANTES in Greek) ! This is why this week’s recipe uses 5 different beans in a soup base made of broth, 5 pureed vegetables and cream for a hearty dish !

Using 5 different beans of 3 different sizes may seem complicated but only if you make it complicated. Listen up.

When soaking beans before adding them to your broth or soup base, they should ideally double in weight and they won’t absorb any more after that point. A little baking soda and salt in the water also helps with water absorption as well as any gassy effects after eating them. If they’re soaked in colder temperatures, like a cellar or refrigerator, the different size beans will soak water more gently and equally and 12 hours soaking time is perfect.

Cooking beans of different sizes requires some planning. What I mean is that you should soak each type of bean separately according to size and then add them to your boiling broth separately too, according to size. The soaked giant or large beans first for 30 minutes, the soaked medium beans secondly for another 30 minutes and the soaked really small beans last for another 30 minutes. 

To recap for this recipe, giant lima beans will need 90 minutes cooking time, the medium-sized red kidney and spotted cannellini beans will need 60 minutes and the small coco beans and green flageolet beans will require only 30 minutes (some adjustments may be necessary depending if simmering them gently or less gently).

Thickening up this soup broth is due to the addition of a thickening mixture of one-third cream (whether light or heavy) and two-thirds pureed vegetables, thus creating a healthier but just as smooth and satisfying soup.

The idea is to create a thick & creamy vegetable soup with lots of whole cooked tender and tasty beans floating around and melting in your mouth … :)

creamy 5-bean & 5-vegetable soup


2 liters or 4 x 500 grams each


  • 300 grams (2 cups) mixed dry beans (5 different beans : 100 grams giant lima beans, 50 grams each of medium red kidney, medium spotted cannellini, small green flageolet and small white coco beans)
  • 125 grams (2-3 small) potatoes, peeled
  • 125 grams (1 medium) white onion
  • 125 grams (1 medium) carrot (preferably yellow)
  • 125 grams (3 stalks) celery
  • 125 grams (1 whole) leek, only white part
  • 25 grams (3 large cloves) garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 branches flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 branches thyme
  • 1 branch sage leaves
  • 30 grams (2 tbsp) butter
  • 30 grams (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 7,5 grams (½ tbsp) sea salt (add 7,5 grams or ½ tbsp extra if your broth is not salty)
  • 1 grams (¼ tsp) ground pepper
  • 0,5 gram (1/8 tsp) grated nutmeg 
  • 0,5 gram (1/8 tsp) ground allspice
  • 2 liters (8 cups) light chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 500 ml (2 cups) water, add more if needed (if the broth evaporated too much while cooking)
  • 180 ml (¾ cup) light cream (18% fat) or heavy cream (30% fat)
  • 2 grams (2 tbsp) parsley leaves, for serving


  • soak the beans separately with double their weight in water (a total of 600 ml water mixed with ½ tbsp baking soda and ½ tsp salt) overnight in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or until doubled in weight, then strain and reserve each type of bean separately
  • *note : different-sized beans require different soaking times (at room temperature) and cooking times; smaller beans require about 6-7 hours soaking time and 30 minutes cooking time, medium beans require 8-9 hours soaking time and 60 minutes cooking time and very large beans require 10-12 hours soaking time and 90 minutes cooking time; soaking them all in a colder environment like the refrigerator is easier and more equal in water absorption so they can all be soaked for 12 hours; a good indicator of perfectly soaked beans is that they will double in weight when correctly soaked …
  • melt the butter with the olive oil, braise whole or thickly cut vegetables, add salt and pepper and the herbs bundle (the different herb stalks wrapped up in green leek leaves and tied with string), add the chicken (or vegetable) broth, bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 60 minutes, with a cover, then strain the vegetables from the soup broth and let cool down, discard the herb bundle
  • *note : you should end up with 625 grams of tender cooked vegetables and 1,5 liters broth  (if not, then add 1-2 cups more water for cooking the beans) …
  • cut the cooked vegetables in smaller chunks (you can discard the carrot if it’s too orange because it will darken the mixture but if it’s yellow then keep it), place the vegetables (approximately 625 grams) in a large bowl with 180 ml or ¾ cup of light or heavy cream and 180 ml or ¾ cup of the strained broth and blend with an immersion blender until smooth and set aside, add more nutmeg, allspice and pepper if necessary
  • bring the strained broth to a boil and add the large giant lima beans first, lower heat to medium and simmer with a cover for 30 minutes, then add the medium-sized cannellini and red kidney beans and simmer for the next 30 minutes and finally add the smaller white coco and green flageolet beans for the last 30 minutes of simmering (total cooking time is 90 minutes), test the different sized beans for tenderness and cook 10-15 minutes more if not tender enough to your taste
  • add the puréed cream and vegetable mixture to the cooked beans and broth and stir until smooth and reheat until the soup simmers gently and adjust with more salt if necessary and add more water if too thick
  • serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped parsley leaves and accompany with thick slices of toasted country bread.