A Brief History of Succotash

Succotash is a dish I remember from elementary school days. Beans and corn, harvested from summer crops, were a familiar and classic mixture known to many of us as Succotash. Succotash Chowder is a soup made from the same ingredients as Succotash but with the addition of milk to make it a chowder. 

The word succotash is the Narragansett word “sohquttahhash,” meaning “broken corn.” The Narragansett tribe had its roots in Rhode Island. These American Indians not only named the dish but introduced it to our pilgrim forefathers. An early version of succotash was most likely on the table at Thanksgiving Dinner. Sometimes succotash is baked in casserole form and topped with a pie crust like a pot pie.

Because the ingredients were relatively inexpensive and readily available, succotash was a popular dish during the Great Depression in the United States. Another reason for its popularity may have been the combination of grain (corn) with a legume (lima beans) producing a dish high in essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are needed for the body’s everyday functioning.

Succotash Chowder Recipe

Succotash Chowder
Serves 6
A delicious chowder made with fresh or frozen corn and baby lima beans. Dried baby lima beans may be used also.
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
  1. 1 medium potato, diced
  2. 1 tablespoon butter
  3. 2 cups chopped onion
  4. 3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  5. 3 stalks celery, minced
  6. 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  8. 1 teaspoon basil
  9. 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  10. 3 cups corn (fresh or frozen & defrosted)
  11. 2-3 cups cooked baby lima beans
  12. 4 cups milk
  13. 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  14. Finely minced parsley and/or chives (optional)
  1. Cook the diced potato in boiling water until just tender. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pan or Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, celery, red bell pepper, salt and herbs.
  3. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onion, celery and bell pepper are tender.
  4. Stir in the corn and saute for about 10 minutes more.
  5. Add the cooked beans.
  6. For a thicker soup, puree some of the soup in a food processor or blender. Return to the Dutch oven or pan.
  7. Add potatoes and milk. Season to taste with black pepper and correct salt.
  8. Serve very hot, topped with minced fresh herbs, if available.
Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook
Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook
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Variations on a Theme

There are many variations in making succotash such as adding okra, tomatoes, yellow squash, bacon and even shrimp! Therefore, there could also be many variations in making Succotash Chowder! I encourage you to take every recipe and make adjustments, additions and subtractions to make a dish your very own. The New Moosewood Cookbook version of this recipe is a vegetarian recipe but if you do eat meat, bacon would go so well with the corn and other vegetables. Fresh basil or other herbs make a great garnish!

I believe you could freeze Succotash Chowder if you don’t add the milk to it. Soups with milk don’t seem to freeze well.  Frozen Succotash Chowder could be thawed, then heated up and the milk added near the end of the cooking time. If you needed Succotash Chowder to take to a pot-luck supper you could pour it into a slow cooker for transport and then plug it into a power source to keep it warm until serving time.

This chowder is great in the summertime with fresh corn and other vegetables but may be prepared year round using frozen corn and frozen baby lima beans. If you want to save even more money, use dried baby lima beans. If using dried beans, soak 1 to 1 1/2 cups beans in water at least 4 hours or overnight. Cook in plenty of simmering water for 35 to 40 minutes, or until perfectly tender. Try not to overcook the beans or the soup will become mushy.

Sufferin’ Succotash!

Anyone who has seen Looney Tunes cartoons haS probably heard Sylvester the Cat as well as some other cartoon characters exclaiming “sufferin’ succotash!” Sufferin’ succotash was a catchphrase used by Sylvester the Cat as an expressions of surprise and annoyance. In case you somehow missed this, please click on the video below.


I hope you’ll try Succotash Chowder soon – it’s a hearty soup that everyone will enjoy!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!


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How to Prepare Succotash Chowder — 26 Comments

  1. Succotash chowder – never heard of it but it looks amazing! Thanks for sharing on the What?s for Dinner link up

  2. I have never had this chowder, but I want to make it now. It looks delicious. Thank you for linking up with the Small Victories Link up.

  3. Hi Leigh, Thanks for your kind comments and visit! I hope you enjoy this chowder – it’s most delicious when made with fresh veggies! Thanks for hosting Small Victories Sunday! Blessings, Janet

  4. Hi Edye, Hope you enjoy the Succotash Chowder! It’s most delicious when made with fresh veggies! Thanks for your comment and visit! Blessings, Janet

  5. Yum this sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing with us at Family Joy Blog Link Up Party this week.

  6. Hi Charlene, Thanks for your kind comments, visit and for hosting Family Joy Blog Link-up Party! I think this recipe would be a good one to encourage kids to eat their veggies! Blessings, Janet

  7. Hi Ilka, Thanks for pinning this recipe and for your kind comments! Thanks also for hosting Sunday’s Fitness Food Link Up! Hope you enjoy this wonderful soup! Blessings, Janet

  8. Thanks for explaining the history and the chowder looks delicious. Great to have you sharing with us at Over the Moon.

  9. Would you believe I have never eaten Succotash before – probably because I do not like lima beans:) I could always substitute, right? Beautiful chowder and thanks for coming to Fiesta Friday #136.

  10. Hi Judi, I can believe it because I’m not crazy about lima beans either but strangely enough I like the baby limas! The don’t seem to be as starchy and gluey as the bigger limas. You could certainly substitute but I’d encourage you to taste some baby limas. Any bean would probably be great in this. We were fortunate to get some wonderful fresh corn that just made this chowder exceptional. Thanks for hosting Fiesta Friday! Blessings, Janet

  11. What a delicious Chowder, we will just love this. Thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend!
    Miz Helen

  12. I’ve never tried Succotash, but I like that it’s a special fall meal and it really looks so yummy! it must be great on a cold day as well!

  13. Hi Katrin, Thanks for your nice comments and for stopping by! Hope you’ll give Succotash Chowder a try soon! Blessings, Janet

  14. I don’t think I have ever tasted succotash. I guess I need to try it.

    Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  15. Thanks for the history for Succotash and for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday Link Up Party this week.

  16. Hi Carol, I hope you will! Most people that don’t like succotash (in my experience) don’t like lima beans. This recipe uses “baby” lima beans which taste much better to me than limas. Of course other beans could be substituted as well! Blessings, Janet

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