Snowcap Heirloom Bean Soup with Shrimp, Green Olives, Lime

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Snowcap Heirloom Bean Soup and homemade tortillas by Angela Roberts

When I go to Napa, I equally enjoy the food shopping as I do the restaurants. This recipe incorporates Rancho Gordo snowcap beans and Round Pond Estates hot sauce.

I bragged about Rancho Gordo before and  will probably do so again and again. This is a personal endorsement, not a paid one, and I’m not saying you should run to their website and order beans. I’m just saying it’s possible not only to taste beans in a more delicious way than you might be used to, but when you know about an heirloom crop that takes a little more effort and is not about producing the biggest crop, but the tastiest crop, you might start to respect the bean a little more, and stretch yourself to find ways to cook them in new and exciting ways.

I was determined to give the next bag of beans (snowcaps) its due respect. I wanted to redefine for myself what a bean soup could be.

Snowcap beans look like this after they have been soaked overnight. Snowcaps are similar in meatiness to a cranberry bean, but bigger, prettier when cooked, and one of the most requested beans at Rancho Gordo. The creaminess of a potato inspires chowder-type recipes. I just heard that they don’t have snowcap beans right now, but that they do have a good stand in, Royal Coronas.

I have posted many various bean recipes and soups but never with seafood. I took a chance making a bean and shrimp soup, only to find out that my husband doesn’t like seafood soups. After twelve years of marriage, revolving around a lot of cooking and dining out, I was taken by complete surprise. He orders seafood 90% of the time. How could he not love this? It was going to be a lot of soup for me to eat if I didn’t figure out a way to make it with some twist that would change his mind.

I decided to use pancetta, shrimp, red chiles, and for a garnish, spanish olives, fresh tomatoes and lime. I think the lime did the trick. Each layer of flavors hits you one at time all the way to the end with that squeeze of lime. And, the citrus adds brightness and balances the the heaviness of the beans.

On a whim, I made my own corn tortillas, but with no tortilla press, I had to hand roll. This is the perfect accompaniment, and the first time I have every enjoyed a corn tortilla by itself. A flat bread, tortilla chips or crostini would also be good choices.

I used red chili peppers which lost their heat the next day, so an added sprinkling of red pepper flakes would be suitable along with the hot sauce.

By the way, he ate the soup!

You CAN make this soup with canned beans as I  did in this recipe. 

More Soups from Spinach Tiger


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Spicy Sausage Soup

How to Make Italian Bean Soup from Spinach Tiger

Print Recipe
3.40 from 5 votes

Soup for Winter. Snowcap Heirloom Beans with Shrimp, Green Olives, and Lime with Homemade Corn Tortillas

Servings: 6


  • 1 pound peeled deveined large shrimp (maintain shells)
  • olive oil
  • 2-4 ounces pancetta finely diced
  • 2 red chili peppers seeded diced
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 3 celery chopped
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves finely diced
  • 8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 pound cooked beans see below in notes
  • hot sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • sliced Spanish olives
  • chopped fresh tomato
  • lime wedges
  • chopped Italian parsley for garnish


  • In separate small pan, boil two cups of water with shrimp shells. Drain, and reserve.
  • Saute pancetta in olive oil, rendering the fat.
  • Add vegetables until softened.
  • Add garlic cloves. Saute for a minute. Add in chicken broth, and shrimp broth.
  • Add beans and continue to cook until soup is simmering, about 30 minutes,
  • At this time, use an emulsion blender to blend some of the beans to a puree to bring creaminess. You may need to add in extra water also. It should still be a soup, not a stew.
  • Add in shrimp and continue to cook until shrimp are pink.
  • Serve with garnish of, olives, tomatoes and lime, sprinkling of parsley, and corn tortillas or crusty bread.
  • Season as needed with salt, pepper and hot sauce.


Cooking Beans
Prep time: Six hours or overnight
Cook Time: 60-90 minutes
1 pound snowcap beans (you can substitute another meaty bean such as white beans or cranberry beans}
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 celery, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
Sprig thyme
(do not salt while cooking)
Soak beans overnight or at least six hours.
Drain, rinse, put in fresh water in large pot with vegetables.
Bring to boil, and then simmer for 1 hour or until soft.

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If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

Note: I made corn tortillas with a masa mix. I didn’t have a tortilla press, so I hand rolled.

Tell me, what is the one thing that totally surprised you about your spouses or significant other’s eating peculiarities?

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  1. Hi
    I live in Georgia and I am having a very, very hard time finding these snowcap beans anywhere. Can you please tell me where you get yours from?



    1. I used Rancho Gordo beans, from their store in Napa. You can, however, use a cannellini bean or white bean in its place. One of my most favorite recipes is the one on my blog with the Christmas Tree lima beans, that I can only get ordering from Rancho Gordo. If you love beans, give this soup a try also.

      I love both soups. I hope you will too.

  2. Hi
    I love in Georgia and I am having a very, very hard time finding these snowcap beans anywhere. Can you please tell me where you get yours from?



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