Easy 30-minute Butter Bean Soup

This Butter Bean Soup recipe is nutritious and filling and requires no blending or blitzing. It’s simple to make and can be cooked and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. 

Butter Bean Soup Ingredients

Butter beans (or lima beans) are a key ingredient in Mexican cuisine and are an all too often underrated legume.  They are a nutritious source of protein, fiber, zinc and magnesium that helps to aid digestion, support good cell growth and help you feel fuller for longer. 

They are so versatile and a delight to cook with as they carry flavor and spice really well. They hold their shape and retain a delicious creamy texture when added to soups and stews.   They are also a great addition to salads and can easily be blended to create nutritious vegetarian pates and dips.

Butter beans are available to buy as dried beans that need a little preparation and soaking before they are tender enough to use as an ingredient in recipes.  Alternatively, they are available and ready to use in cans. 

I’ve tried both dried beans and canned beans and for me, I prefer the canned variety for this Butter Bean Soup because they are quick and easy to use and I can’t find any difference in taste and result.  The canned beans are tender, flavourful and ready to use straight from the can.  Although, they are a little more expensive than the dried variety.

If you prefer to use dried beans, then feel free and always read the label on how to prepare them for use. 

Butter Bean Soup Recipe Variations

Butter Bean Substitute:

Cannellini, borlotti, pinto, red kidney and black-eyed beans are perfectly acceptable alternatives if you don’t have butter beans in your cupboard.  They vary slightly in the amount of nutrients they offer but are all a good source of plant-protein and fiber. 

How do I add more fiber and nutrients to my homemade soup?

To add extra vitamins and minerals and bulk the soup out further, you could add more vegetables.  Simply raid your fridge to add your favorites.  Carrots, squash, potato or sweet potato would work well.  Peel and chop them into bite-sized pieces and add them once the leeks have softened. Push them around the pan for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. 

Add the stock and then simmer until the vegetables are tender. Check the vegetables are cooked by inserting a clean knife into one of the vegetable pieces.  For the perfect Butter Bean Soup recipe with extra vegetables make sure the veggies are tender and just falling off the knife but not breaking up into mush.   

For a minestrone-vibe you could add a few handfuls of shredded spinach, cabbage or kale and some dried pasta shapes. Add the pasta to the stock and cook according to the packet instructions. And simply wash and slice your chosen greens and add to the pan 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.  This would add an extra boost of iron and fiber to the finished soup. 

More Delicious Bean Recipes

For more delicious bean recipes, why not have a look at my Vibrant 3 Bean Soup Mexican-Style recipe or my hummus made with Cannellini beans.  


Butter Bean Soup

Course Soup
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 4


  • Large heavy-based pan with lid


  • 2 400 g tins butterbeans drained and rinsed
  • 4 leeks washed, trimmed and roughly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch of thyme leaves picked
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Wash and trim the leeks making sure to remove any dirt that may be trapped between the layers. Roughly slice the leeks into rounds (about ½ cm thick). Put the washed leeks into a colander and pat dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel to remove as much moisture as possible.
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a low heat. Add the leeks and rosemary. Sweat them very gently until the leeks become translucent and very soft. This will take 10-15 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the leeks from sticking to the pan and turning brown or charred as this will make for a slightly acrid and bitter taste.
  • Add the garlic to the pan and continue cooking on a low heat for 3 minutes.
  • Add the stock, butterbeans, half of the chopped thyme and a good grind of salt and fresh black pepper.
  • Increase the heat slightly until the soup reaches simmering point.
  • Now pop the lid on the pan and reduce the heat to allow the soup to cook through. This will take about 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat. Check the seasoning and transfer immediately to serving bowls.
  • Top with a few thyme leaves and serve.

Butter Bean Soup Ingredient Substitutes

What can I use instead of leeks in this butter bean soup recipe?

Its fine to substitute white or red onions in place of leeks in this recipe.  They’ll need to be prepared and cooked in the same way as the leeks.  Make sure they are cooked over a low heat until they become soft and translucent as this adds sweetness to the overall dish.

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