New Year’s Day Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Black eyed pea soup simmering

Black eyed pea soup simmering

If you live in the south, you probably have some sort of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. These little peas are supposed to bring you good luck in the coming year. Legend has it that this tradition comes from the Civil War era when the Northern army didn’t burn the fields of peas as they swept through the South.

I hope you don’t just eat these peas on New Year’s Day because they are really good and should eat them year-round. I have another recipe for black-eyed pea soup but it’s a lot more complicated. For this one, I wanted to make a soup with less steps and just a lot easier to make. I basically start with our favorite soffritto mixture of onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Yes, these are more items than in a traditional soffritto but we like the flavors.

As for the meat in this dish, we happened to find a spiral sliced ham at our local HEB grocery store that was on sale after Christmas so we had to get it. We parted the ham up and used the bone from the ham. The last half or so of the ham wasn’t sliced so we cut up these pieces into bite sized chunks and used these. Without this ham, I would have used sausage and some bacon.

Now, let’s talk about spicy, as in heat. We like it hot! I think a spicy soup is perfect all year round, but especially on a cold winter day (like New Year’s Day). Therefore, we put in 2 jalapenos and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. You can definitely cut back or even eliminate both ingredients if you don’t want it spicy. However, I’d at least put in 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. we buy jalapenos by the dozen and grow our own during the summer so we always have plenty on hand.

To start, get all your vegetables ready.

Vegetables for the soffritto to go into the black eyed pea soup.

Vegetables for the soffritto to go into the black-eyed pea soup.

Cook your vegetables in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.

Vegetable cooking for black eyed pea soup.

Vegetable cooking for black-eyed pea soup.

Once cooked, add your black-eyed peas, liquid, ham bone and ham chunks.

Black eyed pea soup starting to cook.

Black-eyed pea soup starting to cook.

Let it simmer for a couple of hours and then it’s ready for you and your family!

Black eyed pea soup simmering

Black-eyed pea soup simmering

It’s become our tradition to make a black-eyed pea soup on New Year’s Day afternoon while we’re watching college bowl games.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound package of black-eyed peas, sorted and soaked overnight
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (you can cut back on this if you don’t want it spicy)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 cup ham pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce the amount if you don’t want it spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

The night before you want to make this, rinse your black-eyed peas and then place in a large pot and cover with an inch of water.

The next day, drain your peas and rinse them again in a colander to get out any remaining grit from the peas. They should have swelled up over night.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat and then put in your onions. After 2 minutes, add the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes. Next, add the carrots, celery, bell peppers and jalapenos. Stir well and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are tender.

Add your beans and chicken broth and water. Then add your ham bone and ham pieces.  Next add the cumin, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. If all your ingredients aren’t covered with the broth and water, add additional water until fully covered. Then bring to a boil. After it starts boiling, reduce your heat to low, put the lid on your Dutch oven, and allow the pot to simmer for at least 2 hours, until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. If the water starts to evaporate to the point that it no longer covers the peas, simply add enough water to the pot to cover the peas while they simmer.

Persillade Relish

We saw this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen and it sounded great. We knew we had to try it and used it for some steaks we cooked on the grill. We don’t usually put any sauce on our grilled steaks but we just really wanted to try this recipe out and see how it was.

The main thing we did differently is we used homemade dill pickles rather than the cornichons that the recipe called for. I don’t know if it would make a difference but we liked the way it turned out. So, I wouldn’t go out and buy a bottle of cornichons if you have a supply of dill pickles in your refrigerator.

As a side note, this is the only version I found online that includes the pickles and capers. I thought they were the star of the show, but I love capers so that’s what appealed to me at first. One article from Canada says this Persillade Relish (or sauce) is a distant cousin to the Argentine Chimichurri, Spanish Salsa Verde, German Gruene Sosse and Mexican Salsa Verde. I could definitely see the similarity to chimichurri and Spanish salsa verde but not to Mexican salsa verde. We make the Mexican version all the time and it’s got a lot more liquid to it. I’ve never made the Spanish salsa verde but it is something I’m adding to my list of things to try.

My final thought is that without the pickles and capers this relish/salsa is very similar in ingredients and texture to an Italian pesto. We’ve made pestos from basil, of course, but also with parsley, arugula (one of my favorites) and cilantro. I think you can definitely play around with this and come up with your favorite combination for your family.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons minced dill pickles (or cornichons)
  • 1 teaspoon of the brine from the dill pickles
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and chopped coarse
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

You can put this into a food processor and give it a few pulses but we just mixed it all by hand.

You can put this relish over any meat or even use it on crackers. It’s really tasty and simple to make.