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.

Pasta & Lentils

Lentils are supposed to bring you good luck for the new year, according to Italian tradition. This tradition goes back a long time and it’s said the little bean’s shape signify coins – thus the association with prosperity for the coming year. I’ve never cooked them before so I was surprised at how easy they are to prepare. I am used to thicker beans that require long soaks to soften them.

For this New Years Eve dinner, I adapted a recipe I found in Breaking Bread in L’Aquila. This recipe comes from Santo Stefano di Sessanio. I didn’t intentionally change the recipe but I did change it because I didn’t have all the ingredients she calls for. Plus, the side note says you can make substitutions and the whole book is about home cooking and using what’s available.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup of dry lentils
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces of pancetta (cut in 1/4 inch pieces)
  • 1 large onion, chopped. We used a large yellow onion
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound of spaghetti (I used our homemade pasta)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmigiano
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Now, add the lentils, cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy. The official recipe says this should take about 20 minutes. Since I haven’t cooked them before, I did just as directed, however, my lentils were more on the mushy side so I will probably cut back on the time by a couple minutes. I think 17 to 18 minutes might have been best. Once cooked, drain the lentils and set aside.

Lentils boiling

Using a large pot, cook your pasta. I used the pasta we made on the chitarra but if you’re using packaged dry pasta, just follow the directions on the package. My pasta took longer than expected but it was kind of thick. Like, a .lot thicker than normal but we actually really liked it. Who knew it would make a difference?

Pasta

While you’re cooking your pasta, heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, onions and garlic. Here’s where we differed. I used bacon because I didn’t have pancetta. Also, we didn’t have enough bacon but we had this with pork roast, so I used some of the drippings from the pork roast to add a meaty flavor. Cook this for about 7 to 10 minutes. I went until the onions were starting to get translucent. At this point, add the lentils, salt and pepper. Also, drain your pasta and reserve 1/4 cup of the water to add to the lentils to make them creamy. To be honest, I skipped the step of adding water because I thought it looked moist enough. Sprinkle with parmigiano and garnish with the parsley.

I wish I had taken a better picture of the final product, but to be honest, my household was too hungry to wait for another picture. I’ll try this recipe again and try to get some better pictures then.Lentils

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten for good luck on New Years Day in the Southern US. I also think they are great any time of the year. I haven’t tried it but I think you could substitute 2 cans of black-eyed peas for the fresh ones.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight
  • 6 cups water, or more as needed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chop half and cut the other half into chuncks
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded and diced (if desired)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound sausage (any type), cut into cubes
  • 1 14oz can of chicken broth
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped the leaves and stems
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions

Soaked black eyed peas

Drain the peas and rinse under cold running water. In a large soup pot, combine the peas with the water and bring to a boil, skimming and discarding any scum that rises to the top.Add the 1/2 onion that you cut into chunks and 2 of the garlic cloves. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans are tender but not falling apart: check occasionally and add water if necessary to keep the beans covered.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the remaining onions and salt and pepper to taste and cook 6 to 8 minutes, until carmelized.

Add the green bell pepper and jalapeno peppers (if desired) and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

Add the remaining garlic and sausage and cook about 5-10 minutes, until the sausage is brown.

Stir in the cooked peas, chicken broth, cilantro, cumin, oregano, coriander and ginger.  If you want it a little spicier, you can add a dash of cayenne pepper, chili pepper or some Cajun spice. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want the soup thicker you can either leave uncovered while you simmer or add corn starch.
Black eyed pea soup

Serve this alone or over steamed rice. It is also really good with cornbread!

This is an original recipe from Brian which is partly based on the Black Bean Chili.