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Beans with Salty Orange Cream and Croutons

Beans with Salty Orange Cream and Croutons

Renée Robinson

A Bowl of Beans Unlike Any You’ve Ever Tasted.

Here I am, back with another bowl-of-beans recipe. And this one is a beauty. The day before I cook my beans is when I get to really thinking about how I’m going to serve them. I always soak them overnight in salted water. I’m a believer in this technique. The beans are seasoned all the way through and always turn out creamy.

Soaking Christmas Beans

Seeing as how big and substantial Rancho Gordo’s Christmas Lima Beans are, I decided to go full “hog” on these. I cooked them with a smoked ham hock, aromatics, rosemary and bay leaves, and some red pepper flakes. I wanted plenty of flavor in the broth.

As the beans were cooking, I got inspired by a condiment that’s new to me. Ottolenghi has a recipe for quickly preserved lemons, which he then purees. I couldn’t see why this technique wouldn’t work well with clementines. I sliced them up, added some additional clementine juice and lemon juice, and then plenty of salt, as that’s key to the flavor of preserved lemons. I thought I needed lemon juice in order to keep the orange flavor from being flat. All of this goes into a covered saucepan and is cooked until the rinds are softened. This only takes about 15 to 18 minutes.

Cooked Orange Slices

Then, it goes into a food processor and is fully pureed. What you’re left with is a salty flavor explosion with the texture of citrus curd. I couldn’t help but think a spoonful of this would be just what was needed to wake these beans up.

Salty Orange Cream

But I needed some crunch, too. So, good old croutons seemed to be the answer. Because they’d be sitting in some liquid I made them with crusty country bread, a little olive oil, and seasoning. I let them bake until they were completely dried out and very crispy. This way they could sit in the broth and not go soggy right away. Soft bread with a fine crumb is not what you want to use here. 

Well, the end result is what you see. Chives, a little drizzle of chili oil, and a sprinkle of black pepper were all that was needed to finish it off. As to the orange cream, it is fantastic. I only put a small spoonful on everyone’s bowl, but as we ate, we all added an additional spoonful to our bowls. I’ve got plenty left over and have plans for adding it to another recipe I’ll be working on this week. I can think of so many ways to use it. It brings a whole lot to the table and I’m thinking a lime version would also be delicious.

NOTE: I only used half of the cooked beans for this recipe. If you decided to eat all of them this way, you will need to bake additional croutons.

Beans with Salty Orange Cream and Croutons

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Christmas Lima Beans are cooked with a ham hock and aromatics. They're topped with a spoonful of salty orange cream made with clementines. Crisp croutons, chives and a little chili oil are the finishing touches. This is one scrumptious bowl of beans.

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  • 1 pound Rancho Gordo Christmas Lima Beans

  • 18 cups water, divided

  • Morton’s kosher salt

  • 1 smoked ham hock

  • 1/2 large white onion

  • 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut in half

  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • Black pepper, coarsely ground, several healthy grinds

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • Chili oil

  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives

  • Salty Orange Cream
  • 240 g clementines, (4 or 5) weighed after slicing off the ends, then sliced into thin slices, approximately 1/8-1/4 inch thick

  • Juice from 3 clementines

  • Lemon juice, approximately 1/3 cup (80ml)

  • 4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 2 1/2 teaspoons Morton's kosher salt

  • Croutons
  • 2 slices crusty country bread, sliced 3/4 inch thick and torn into bite sized pieces

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Heavy pinch of salt

  • Black pepper


  • Add 8 cups water and 1 1/2 tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt to a big pot. Rinse the beans and add to the pot. Cover and let soak overnight.
  • The next day, preheat the oven to 325° with a rack in the center. Drain the beans, rinse the pot and add the beans back into the pot. Cover with 10 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, the ham hock, and next 8 ingredients (onion through olive oil). Bring to a brisk boil on top of the stove over medium high heat. Let boil for 5 minutes. Cover, place in the oven and let cook for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Start checking on the beans after 1 hour and continue to check on them at 20 minute intervals until they are fully cooked and creamy. Remove the onion, carrot, bay leaves, rosemary and ham hock. Add any pieces of meat left on the ham hock to the beans. Serve in bowls, drizzled with a little chili oil, a teaspoon or so of the salty orange cream, croutons, a few grinds of black pepper, and chives. Enjoy! PLEASE NOTE: I only used half the beans for this recipe. If you decided to eat all of them this way, you will need to make additional croutons.
  • Salty Orange Cream
  • Add the sliced clementines to a small saucepan. Place the juice from 3 additional clementines in a measuring cup. Add enough lemon juice to bring the measurement to 1/2 cup (120ml). Add the juice to the sliced clementines, along with 4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal or 2 1/2 teaspoons Morton's kosher salt. Over medium high heat bring the clementines to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat. Cook for approximately 15-18 minutes, until they’re fully softened and the liquid has reduced to about half its original volume.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, add to a small food processor and blitz until you have a creamy blend. It should resemble the consistency of lemon curd. Add a little water if it seems too thick. Set aside and let it cool.
  • Croutons
  • Preheat oven to 400° with a rack in the center. Place the bread pieces on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss the ingredients together, spread out the bread, leaving room between each piece, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they’re crisp and golden brown, tossing at the halfway point. Set aside to cool.


  • I only used half of the beans for this recipe. If you wish to use all the beans, you will need to make additional croutons.

4 Responses

  1. Your note says that you used half the beans for this recipe. Does that mean you used 1/2 pound of beans and not 1 pound? Or does this note just refer to the croutons in that you made a half batch of the recipe and used a full batch of croutons?

    1. Hi, Diane. Yes, I only used half of my cooked one pound of dried beans for this recipe. If you want to use the full pound, you will need to double the amount of croutons. I hope you enjoy this makes it clearer. Sorry about that.

  2. To turn preserved lemons into lemon cream, do I just blitz them in a food processor or do I add anything else?

    1. Arlene, regular preserved lemons are not going to give you the same texture as my salty orange cream, no matter what you do to them. My oranges are cooked, so they’re texture is soft. Typical preserved lemons are not cooked at all and are not soft. I think you’d end up with a paste, but it won’t be creamy in texture. I think it could still be good, just different.

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