Butter bean and Swiss chard soup with polenta

By Wendy Andresen | Apr 22, 2021
Photo by: Wendy Andresen

We ate all of this soup before I had a chance to take a photo, so I had to make it again the following week. I found some lovely local organic coarse stoneground cornmeal to thicken it, and the pot of rosemary I brought inside last fall benefitted from a little pruning. Feel free to substitute other greens such as collards, kale, or spinach for the Swiss chard. Just adjust the cooking time for your choice of greens.

We really loved the texture of the butter beans, but you could swap them for cannellini or great northern beans if you prefer. Your taste buds and tummy will thank you for the rich, silky creaminess of it all.


3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp. snipped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried

6 cups vegetable broth (or water with added vegetarian bouillon base)

1/4 cup cream sherry

3/4 cup cornmeal (polenta)

9 ounces Swiss chard, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups packed)

2 16-ounce cans butter beans, including liquid

Salt to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste

Nondairy grated parmesan for garnish


1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the onions. Cook and stir on medium heat for 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and rosemary and cook for 2 more minutes.

2. Add the vegetable broth and sherry. Whisk in the cornmeal and bring the soup to a boil. Cook and whisk frequently at a low boil for 30 minutes, until the cornmeal is softened.

3. Add the Swiss chard and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until as tender as you like it.

4. Add the butter beans with their liquid and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. The amount of salt you need depends on the saltiness of your vegetable broth.

5. Garnish with nondairy grated parmesan.

Nondairy Grated Parmesan*

2 cups almond flour

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp. mellow white miso paste

1 1/2 tsp. lactic acid powder (order online)

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. This makes a huge batch, so you can refrigerate some in a pretty jar that looks nice on your table and store the rest in the freezer indefinitely.

*Recipe from “The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook” by Skye Michael Conroy.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.

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