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.

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Sunday Pot Roast Stew

Beef Stew in bowl

Pot Roast Beef Stew

Cold, wintry days scream for a hot stew at dinner time. This is the kind of stew that you get anxious as the bowl gets empty because you don’t want it to end. If I didn’t care about portion size or my waist size, I would have kept eating until this was all gone! This stew takes a little more time than we have to spend on week nights so it’s a great stew to make on a Sunday afternoon. Just put it all together and let it simmer until you’re ready to eat. We threw this together after looking for some recipes online. We couldn’t find a recipe that really matched what we wanted so we just picked the pieces we wanted to include in our stew. It really only takes about 1/2 hour to get the ingredients ready and cooked and then another 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a simmer.

I think of this recipe as having three steps. First you brown the meat. Then you get the vegetables cooked. Finally, you add the meat back to the vegetables and let the stew simmer for 2 hours.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of roast cut into cubes (sirloin or chuck roast)
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat
  • 3 carrots, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch discs
  • 1 large (or two medium) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 12oz can of beer (we used Michelob Ultra)
  • 1 tablespoon smoke paprika

Directions

Heat the first 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil in a large dutch oven.

Start by cutting your roast into cubes and getting the meat ready to cook. Then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. coat the meat thoroughly. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and the flour will be absorbed. Now, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and mix into the meat to give it a good coating.

Put the meat into the hot bacon fat or oil and brown for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until the meat is browned on all sides. For example, while it was browning, we turned the meat every 2 minutes or so. Once browned, remove the meat into a heat-safe bowl. You could also brown this in 2 batches or use a big skillet where all the meat can be on one level. Our dutch oven didn’t allow us to have one layer so we had to mix it more than normal.

Stew beef browning in dutch oven

Stew beef browning in dutch oven.

Add the additional tablespoon of bacon fat to the dutch oven and let it melt. Once melted, add the carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables cook down for about 10 minutes.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Then, add the potatoes and garlic and gently fold into the other vegetables. Now add the thyme and rosemary and mix well.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

Then add the meat back into the dutch oven and pour in the beef broth, beer and smoked paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil in the uncovered dutch oven.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

Once you reach a boil, cover the pot and reduce for a simmer. Simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat and potatoes are tender.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

Our Sunday Beef Stew

This is our beef stew after it has simmered for a couple of hours. As you can see, the liquid has thickened up and become a nice, rich, brown gravy.

Texas Chili

It’s Superbowl Weekend and what better to go with the big game than a big bowl of homemade chili. I think everyone in Texas has a favorite chili recipe but no one seems to agree whether there should be beans or not. Well, I’ve had great chili both ways so I am not partial to one way or the other. I know some people say real Texas chili has no beans, but, I don’t agree. I’ve always had chili in Texas and I find it both ways, so that tells me there’s no “one way” to make your chili. The best thing is to find a simple recipe that you can go back to time and again. Also, your go-to recipe shouldn’t include a prepackaged pouch of spices, that’s just not right. This is just such a recipe and it does not have beans.

This recipe is very flexible and you can customize it to meet you heat tolerance and available spices. It’s loosely based on the chili recipe provided by Congressman J. J. Pickle from the 1oth District, TX. That would be the Austin area at the time he was in Congress. This also is the district that LBJ represented from 1937 until 1949.

This will serve 6 to 8. You can refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

20160207_Texas_Chili.jpg

Texas chili simmering

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chuck roast, chili ground or small cubed
  • 3 tbls corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Hot water
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tabasco
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (or 1 8oz can of tomato sauce)
  • 3 tbsp masa harina (or flour)

Directions

Put the corn oil into a large, cast-iron pot. Add the meat, onions and garlic and sear over high heat, stirring constantly, until the meat turns light grey. Add the hot water to just cover the meat, onions and garlic. Then add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT or the masa harina. If needed, you can add a little more water if the mixture is too thick. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours. On a low temp, this can go for hours. Skim of the grease. If the chili is too thin, sprinkle with the masa harina and stir, then simmer for 15 additional minutes to thicken.

To serve this, put into a bowl and add your favorite condiments. I like to sprinkle it with cheddar cheese and some finely chopped onions. You can also add a spoonful of sour cream. This chili goes really well with some homemade cornbread or the Texas favorite Saltine crackers.

Chipotle Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup

What do you do with an extra butternut squash, some pumpkin puree and some vegetables on a cold, grey winter day? Well, you make soup, of course!

I looked up some recipes online and they are all pretty much the same so we took some elements from different sources to add the flavors (and spice) that we like in our foods.

We served ours in a pumpkin bowl. The instructions for the pumpkin bowl are essentially the same as the one we used for the chicken pot pie in a pumpkin and the instructions are included below the instructions for the soup. We used a medium sized pie pumpkin, cut in half and then used each half as a bowl. You can also use a small pie pumpkin for each person, depending on what you have available.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup sliced leeks (optional)
  • 3 chipotle peppers (from a can)
  • 1 tablespoon of the chipotle pepper sauce from the can
  • 1 15 oz can of packed pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (for garnish)

Directions

In a large pot on medium heat, add the butter, butternut squash, diced onion, diced celery, diced carrots, and leeks. Saute this mixture for 10 minutes. Add the chipotle peppers, chipotle pepper sauce, pumpkin and chicken stock. Leave the heat on medium and allow this to simmer for 30 minutes, until all vegetables are soft.

pumpkin soup

Once the vegetables are soft, use an immersion blender to blend the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, allow the soup to cool and then use a regular blender.

Pumpkin soup in a pumpkin

Pumpkin bowls:

Ingredients:

  • 4 (2-pound) sugar pumpkins, preferably short and squat (or two larger ones cut in half with the bottoms trimmed so each side sits flat.)
  • 2 tablespoons melted
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. While it’s heating, slice the tops off the pumpkins. (Placing a pumpkin on a towel will help keep it from rolling around.) Scoop out the seeds, and save them, they are great after you toast them! Using a pastry brush, brush insides of pumpkins with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Season insides of pumpkins with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Place pumpkins on a baking sheet; cover tightly with foil. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

This pumpkin is ready to be filled. It has already been seasoned and gone through the initial coking.

This pumpkin is ready to be filled. It has already been seasoned and gone through the initial cooking.

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.

Black Bean Chili

I’ve been cooking this for years and we love it. I found it in a cookbook that I got for Curt back in 1997. The book is “Cooking with Too Hot Tamales” and I gave it to him for our first Christmas.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight
  • 6 cups water, or more as needed
  • 1 cup beer (or 1/2 can)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 hot peppers diced – jalapeno or serrano peppers are best (if desired)
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small bunch Italian parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Chili Powder mix, recipe follows
  • 1 (12 oz) can diced plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • juice of 1 lemon

There is also a chili powder mix. Just mix these ingredients together and you can adjust this as you prefer:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

There are a lot of things that go into this so take a list with you to the grocery store. I will also admit that you can add or delete ingredients as you see fit. I usually modify this on New Years Day to create a black-eyed pea soup. Also, it’s really helpful if you get all your ingredients ready before you start, otherwise you’ll be rushing to get them all cut and diced before you have to add them to mix.

Here are the general instructions:

First get your beans ready. You can use canned beans but why would you want to do that when beans are so easy to prepare. Follow the instructions on your beans to soak them and get them ready. Once you’ve soaked them, drain the beans and rinse under cold running water. In a large soup pot, combine the beans with the water and bring to a boil, skim off and discard the white scum that rises to the top.

Add the beer and return to a boil. You can use any kind of beer but Shiner is what I prefer. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Keep an eye on the beans and add water if you need to in order to keep the beans covered with water.

When you’re done, drain the beans in a colander and save the cooking liquid for use later.

While the beans are cooking your going to get the vegetables ready. The first part is essentially a sofrito base. To start, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat and then add the red onions and salt and pepper to taste and cook for a couple minutes to get them starting to soften. Once they start to soften, add the garlic, green pepper, celery, carrot and jalapeno peppers and cook about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until these start to soften. Don’t over cook these vegetables because they are going to continue to cook while the mixture simmers. The original recipe has you cook them longer at this stage but the time you’re done, they are all mush, so I prefer to reduce the cooking time and keep the vegetable firmer.

Add the zucchini and red and yellow bell peppers and cook about 8 to 10 minutes longer, until all vegetables are nicely softened.

Now you are going to stir in 4 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid, the vinegar, half of the parsley and the spice mix and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the drained black beans, tomatoes, corn and lemon juice and cook 15 more minutes. To make it more soupy, add the beans a little earlier so they are softer and start to break down.

Stir in the remaining parsley and serve. You can garnish this with sour cream, scallions and some Monterrey Jack cheese.