My husband is a special occasions cook. Although a weeknight dinner of chicken nuggets and fries can totally overwhelm him, a fully home cooked Thanksgiving feast including a succulent brined turkey and at least seven side dishes is something he has successfully accomplished for the past eight years. In addition to Turkey Day, he has perfected an incredible St. Patrick's Day meal that revolves around melt-in-your-mouth corned beef and home baked Irish Soda Bread. He has also been known to whip up a Christmas dinner complete with lamb chops, sautéed green beans,boiled red potatoes, and mint jelly. His holiday meals are elaborate and delicious!
Last year my husband added New Year's Day to his outstanding holiday food repertoire by making a pot of Black Eyed Pea Soup. Although he has attempted this traditional fare every year since we've been married, he didn't truly bring it up to his usual holiday food standard until we moved to Texas. Last year one of his co-workers, who is originally from Louisiana, shared her recipe with him. It is amazing! The flavor is robust and complex and the texture is hearty without being mushy. It is great the first day but gets even better the next day and also freezes well.
I am looking forward to welcoming in 2010 with a big bowl of my husband's steaming Black Eyed Soup. Happy New Year!
Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe
- 4 cups of peas (black-eyed or other small pea, fresh, frozen, or dried. If you use dried, soak for an hour or more. If you use fresh, wash before using, drain and set aside for 20 minutes before cooking (this make the seed “wake-up”). )
- 14-16 oz of chopped onion, carrot, and celery (Tammy recommends the frozen bags of “mire pois” mix). If you can’t find the mix, use 1 large onion, 3 large carrots, 3 stalks celery.
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 cup of diced Peppers (fresh, frozen, smoked, or roasted) (I have used a variety of these: sweet red or yellow bell, cayenne, poblano, cubanella, jalapeno, or any other of your favorites)
- ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (Tammy uses organic)
- Approximately 2 cups Ham or Canadian bacon, chopped into bite size chunks (Tammy recommends the Central Market Natural smoked ham at HEB. It has no nitrates, no gelatin, no preservatives, no additives.) More or less depending on how meaty you want the soup.
- 2 tablespoons of coconut or extra virgin olive oil
- 8 cups water or chicken broth
- Saute: Sauté the veggies in oil on med to low heat. Salt and Pepper liberally. If it becomes dry before the onions are clear, add a tablespoon or two of water. You want it to get really soft and mushy.
- Brown: Once the veggies get soft, turn the heat up and stir occasionally. This will dry out the veggies and make it stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Deglaze: When the veggies start turning brown, then deglaze with apple cider vinegar.
- Stew: Once most of the vinegar cooks off, add 6-8 cups of water, the peas, and the meat. Ham/Canadian Bacon adds salt, but the peas absorb lots of salt, so add more salt and pepper at this stage. Add a bay leaf if you have one. One alternate cooking method would be to have the water, peas, and ham already cooking in another pot or a crock pot while the veggies are being cooked since that takes some time.
- Time: I usually cook it for several hours at a simmer, but this is a preference. Fresh or frozen peas are technically cooked after 20 minutes of boiling. Taste the pea to determine its doneness. Some people like them al dente. I like them almost mushy, but not quite. However, I usually eat it after 20-30 minutes and then keep cooking it. The longer you cook it, the more mushy the pea and the more thick and starchy the soup base. I took Tammy’s recommendation, and used the emersion blender on the entire pot. OMG…it was fantastic. Very hearty and filling.
This will make a pretty good sized pot of soup. It tastes good AWESOME left over and it freezes well too. It can also act as a thickening agent for other soup bases – just remember to blend it before adding to the other soup base ( I use an emersion blender.)
• Chopped cilantro
• Squeeze of lemon
• Fresh red onion slices
• Fresh tomatoes slices with a squeeze of lemon
• Good with roast chicken or turkey or even pork loin
• Rice (some like sticky white rice, I prefer a mix of wild rices)
• Cheese – beans and cheese together make a variety of good proteins. I prefer a sharp cheddar or even a smoked cheddar either with or before the soup.
• Corn bread