Black-Eyed Pea Soup
Urban legend has it that eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day brings good luck and prosperity in the year to come. In the south, a traditional meal includes the peas, which symbolize prosperity as they swell when they cook; greens, which symbolize money; pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, representing positive motion; and corn bread, which represents gold.Black-eyed pea soup regularly appears on the Urban Legend menu at our February wine club party where we celebrate both traditional and lunar new years. Adapted from the Washington Post's Voraciously recipes, our version is vegan; if you eat pork, saute some diced bacon to start your mirepoix, the slow-cooked diced vegetables that form the base for many soups. Instead of greens, we add a tangy relish of green olives. Corn bread is, of course, a great side, but we like accenting affluence with Uptown, our luxurious Bordeaux-style red wine blend (that won't break the piggy bank).
- medium saucepan
- food processor with standard blade
- immersion (stick) blender or traditional blender
For the Soup
- 1 leek, white and light-green parts, trimmed substitute 1 yellow onion if leeks are unavailable
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp dried French thyme
- 1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed, 15 oz. Around 1-3/4 cups; approximately equal to 3/4 cup of dried after cooking
- 2-1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or more as needed)
- 1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
For the Olive Relish
- 1-1/4 cups pitted green olives Castelvetranos are our favorite, but any pitted, unstuffed green olive will work
- 1/4 cups flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp capers, drained
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- Cut the leek in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly between the layers to remove any sand
- Add the oil to a saucepan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, stir in the leek and carrot and cook until beginning to soften, around 5 minutes
- Add the thyme and garlic and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft. If the garlic appears to be browning, reduce the heat so that it does not scorch.
- Stir in the black-eyed peas and the stock. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables are completely softened, 15-30 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the soup from heat. Puree the soup until smooth with an immersion (stick) blender. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Divide the soup into bowls. Garnish with olive relish.
Olive Relish (can be made while the soup is cooking)
- Combine olives, parsley, garlic, capers, and olive oil in a food processor.
- Pulse the processor until the relish is well mixed but still a little chunky.
If you eat pork, finely slice 3 strips of bacon, then gently saute to render the fat. Once the bacon is just starting to brown and crisp, start adding your vegetables. Omit any additional oil in the soup. Home-cooked black-eyed peas are more flavorful than the canned variety. Use approximately 3/4 cup of dried to start and cook according to package instructions in water or stock, for even more flavor. Choose your stock carefully. Many stores' prepackaged versions aren't very tasty. We often purchase ours from restaurant commissary stores; many don't require that you show commercial credentials or have an account to shop. Of course, if you have the time, home-cooked stocks are best. Don't have veggie? Chicken stock works as well.