A hearty, nutritious soup that will feed 12.

  • 1 16 oz bag of dried baby lima beans
  • 1 smoked turkey leg or wing
  • low salt chicken broth, canned or homemade (optional)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 or 4 potatoes (not bakers), cut up into chunks
  • 3 or 4 carrots, cut into coins or ovals or wedges
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 16 oz can tomatoes (whole or diced)
  • 1 or 2 dried bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • other dried or fresh herbs to taste


The day before you are cooking the soup: Wash and pick over the beans, save the bag. Put beans to soak in a large pot of water. The water level should be at least a couple of inches over the beans. Set the pan of soaking beans aside overnight.

At least 2 hours before serving: dump out the soaking water and add fresh water, a little less than directed on the bag. If you will be using low salt cooking broth use this for an equal amount of water. Wash the smoked turkey leg or wing under running water and add to the pot, pushing it down into the beans. Bring the pot to a full rolling boil, then turn down the heat and cook at a very low boil or simmer for an hour.

After the first hour, the beans are pretty well cooked and you can add the vegetables and seasonings. Add the tomatoes including all the liquid. If using whole tomatoes, break them up with your hands as you add them to the soup. Stir well, bring the soup back up to the boil, reduce heat and continue to simmer another hour.

Before serving: remove the turkey leg or wing and let it cool before handling. There will be some usable meat that you can remove from the bone, cut up and add to the soup. At this point taste the soup. It probably does not need any salt. Served with hearty bread this makes a nourishing, inexpensive meal for a crowd. Leftover soup can be refrigerated for 3 or 4 days and reheated — some say it’s even better this way.

(When my mother made this soup she used a ham bone, of course, not a smoked turkey leg. But few of us cook up a ham these days and smoked turkey legs and wings are readily available.)



Barbara Russum
Barbara Russum

Barbara Russum is a longtime reader and supporter of People's World who worked in production and program support from 2003 to 2021. She is particularly impressed by the new, young writers who submit stories from their union organizing, campus work, and neighborhood actions. "I encourage everyone to read People's World, share articles on social media, and donate to support the work."