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Black-Eyed Pea and Peanut Soup

January 15, 2010

Black Eyed Pea and Peanut Soup

It’s true, I really do cook and eat a lot of soup. And unfortunately, all soups tend to look the same, which doesn’t make for fun food photography. Fortunately, they don’t all taste the same, and this one in particular is a pretty keen flavor sensation. What started out as a basic greens and beans soup was transformed at the last minute into something much richer and more interesting by the addition of a little spice and a little peanut butter. It almost reminds me a Thai curry flavor, but is much more basic and simple than that. And no less delicious for it. And to think, I probably would never have thought of it if I hadn’t had so many leftover black-eyed peas in the refrigerator.

After New Years Day Hoppin’ John, I had about three cups of cooked black-eyed peas in the refrigerator, waiting to be put to some other use. I also had leftover collard greens, carrots, and celery, and I figured I would end up with a soup that was almost identical to the Hoppin’ John. Now, that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but if you know me, you know that variety in my kitchen is supremely important. I get bored easily.

So I started looking up black-eyed pea recipes, many of which were from the South. And many of those led me toward recipes that were African and Caribbean in tradition, and many of those included one of my favorite substances of all time, peanut butter. From there, the path was clear and the soup was on the stove in minutes.

Cooking Soup

Black-Eyed Pea and Peanut Soup

  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 3 or 4 leaves of collard greens, stem removed, sliced into manageable pieces
  • 2-3 cups black-eyed peas, cooked (or from a can)
  • 1 teaspoon Moroccan seasoning (optional)
  • 1 generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I had a little less, because I canned them myself)
  • about 4 cups broth or water
  • about 3/4 to 1 cup natural peanut butter (I used chunky, but creamy might be better)
  • a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce, to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, and let cook for a few minutes, or until they are soft and golden. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the celery and onions, and cook for another minute before stirring in the collards. Once the greens are beginning to wilt, add the seasonings, and the black-eyed peas.

Stir well, and add tomatoes and liquid. Let it come to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer the soup for about 30 minutes or so. You can skim the foam off the top if you like, but I often don’t bother. This might be a good time to taste, and add more salt if necessary.

Once the soup is cooked through and the vegetables have reached a consistency to your liking, stir in the peanut butter. Stir well to be sure it’s entirely mixed into the soup, then season with hot sauce to your taste, and serve. I ate some of the leftovers over brown rice, which was extra delicious.

You cannot go wrong with soup.

One reason for my great love of soup is it’s ease: A very basic foundational recipe can lend itself to endless variation. Just start with your aromatics in some hot oil, add some heartier seasonal vegetables, perhaps some beans, appropriate seasonings, and some type of broth, and voila. Soup. You cannot mess it up, and you can make it every week without repeating yourself even once. Although this one, well, I might have to repeat it.

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