This blend of fresh corn, lima beans, okra and tomatoes takes me back to my childhood.
Making of Fresh Southern Succotash with Bacon
Credit: Andrea Mathis

Growing up in the South, summertime was always my favorite season. My sisters and I would spend countless hours playing with our cousins, chasing down the ice cream truck and making up dance routines that were performed for only our closest friends. And when the sun went down, we knew that it was time to head into the house, wash up for dinner and get ready to enjoy a bowl of my mom's famous succotash!

Succotash is just one of those dishes that screams "Hello Summer!" And my mom made the best succotash. Her secret to making this recipe absolutely perfect was using the freshest ingredients. Whenever we would go to the farmers' market, my mom would pick up a ton of fresh veggies, which made me so excited because I knew that the kitchen would be filled with that delicious aroma of succotash in just a few short hours.

So, What Is Succotash?

The term "succotash" is derived from a Narragansett word sohquttahhash, which means "broken corn kernels." The dish primarily consists of sweet corn kernels paired with lima beans or other shelled beans. While its roots weren't planted here in the South, there are a few Southern-inspired variations that have become popular, such as the addition of okra. Some versions of succotash also contain tomatoes, bacon, potatoes or leafy green veggies.

Succotash is usually served as a side dish, but it can definitely become the centerpiece of the meal when served over a piece of warm cornbread or rice—making this a hearty and budget-friendly dish.

How to Make My Mom's Southern Succotash

In addition to being extremely flavorful, succotash is super easy to make. For my my mom's succotash recipe (see the full recipe below), I start by cooking the bacon in a large skillet. You can also use pork belly, if desired. Both can add incredible flavor and texture to your dish.

Once your meat is done and has produced a sufficient amount of drippings, add your onions. Cook on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent.

Next it's time to add the beans, corn and tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes or until all the ingredients are tender. Last but not least—add the okra and a little bit of water. I like to add the okra at the very last step to prevent it from getting too slimy, and I like for it to remain a little crunchy. If you don't mind the slime, and prefer more tender pods, add the okra with the beans, corn and tomatoes.

Cook the succotash for an additional 7 to 10 minutes and season to taste. My mom only used salt and pepper when seasoning this dish because she didn't want any strong flavors to overpower the taste and freshness of the vegetables. And I tend to agree with this logic. I only use salt and pepper, but I've also experimented with a few fresh herbs, such as basil and oregano.

Fresh Southern Succotash with Bacon

Fresh Southern Succotash with Bacon

This Southern succotash is packed with flavor and fresh ingredients, including okra, tomatoes, corn and bacon—so much goodness in one bite! If you can't find fresh okra, feel free to use thawed frozen okra. Read the author's story behind the recipe: Nothing Says Summer to Me More Than My Mom's Southern Succotash.

What to Serve with Succotash?

Succotash can be enjoyed as a side dish, or it can be served as the main entree by pairing it with rice, mashed potatoes or cornbread. No matter the presentation, this hearty dish will be sure to provide you with a warm dose of Southern comfort—just like it does for me.