Pie Crust Cookie Search

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Black-eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

Though time is quickly passing, it is still the beginning of the new year, and you have a chance to get your portion of good-luck bearing black-eyed peas by making this flavorful and filling vegetable soup. Apparently in some locales cabbage represents good luck, too, so you'll increase your chances (see this article for background).

I'm just crazy about black-eyed peas and I have a lot in my freezer, thanks to how well the plants produce each summer. This recipe, however, calls for dried peas which will be easier for most cooks to find. It is easy to modify and use frozen or fresh black-eyed peas.


Black-eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

Adapted from: Slate Magazine
Serves: 12

This soup makes enough for a large crowd but can be frozen or it can be halved. If you have trouble locating Savoy cabbage, substitute regular cabbage.

Cooking times are for sea-level locations. If you are at higher altitudes, everything will take longer depending where you are cooking. Plan on this difference and start earlier. 

The author mentions a texture boosting technique she learned from Mark Bittman which requires saving some of the aromatics to add later. If you are short on time, you may cook all the onions, carrots, and celery at the same time and it will still taste great.

1 pd dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
3/4 to 1 teas salt
2/3 c olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled or scrubbed and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1/4 teas freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium head Savoy cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped, thick stems removed (at least 1/2 c)
1 28-oz can tomatoes, whole and squished with a potato masher or by hand
2 bay leaves
grated Parmesan cheese, optional 

Place the black-eyed peas on a large pot and cover with water to a depth or 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat and keep at a gentle simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook until the peas are mostly tender, 30-40 minutes. Season with about a teaspoon of salt. Set aside. (If necessary you may cool and refrigerate them in their cooking liquid and finish this soup after a day or two.)

Pour half the oil into a Dutch-oven or a large deep pot over medium-high heat. Add about half the onions, carrots, and celery and stirring now and then cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat if necessary to keep from scorching the vegetables. Add the rest of the oil and the remaining aromatics. Season with salt and pepper and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Stir in the garlic, cabbage, 2/3 of the parsley (roughly), and bay leaves, and cook for 7 minutes until the cabbage is softened.

Add the black-eyed peas and their liquid and the tomatoes. Stir until everything is combined. Add some water until it is stew-like but not overly watery. Cover, bring to a boil then reduce the heat so the soup keeps simmering. Cook until the cabbage is very tender, 20-30 minutes. Before serving taste it for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese and parsley.


I've tried and failed to find a definitive discussion of how to substitute fresh for dried black-eyed peas. Some people think you can substitute equal amounts (but no need to cook ahead). But fresh and frozen must weigh more because they contain moisture. I will do a test or two and try to get back to this recipe. In the meantime, if you have frozen or fresh-shelled black-eyed peas, I advise adding an extra quarter or third of a pound and don't worry about the early simmer. The peas should cook enough in the time called for. However, you might need to add some extra water if things seem dry.

The next time I make this soup, I am going to add one of the rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that I have in my freezer. 


  1. Oh Yum. Please come cook in my new kitchen! please...I will be your assistant AND I will do all the clean up! so worth it for me!:)

    1. Yes, that would be loads of fun, except I won't know where to find things anymore. Too bad we can't get together soon.