On a chilly day (and most any day ;), I love a good, hearty soup. Unless you’re from the South, you may come across black-eyed peas only around New Year’s, when it’s traditionally eaten for good luck. For vegetarians and others looking to eat a healthier diet, even then, you may associate these fiber-rich, protein-packed beans with ham hocks and sausage, as they are typically served… so they may not be in your usual repertoire at all.
However, these beans are amazing little fellas with an earthy, savory flavor all their own, which taste great in a tomato-based, hearty stew. This super-healthy recipe is vegan and gluten-free, though vegetarian sausage can be added to give that down-home flavor you may have in mind around this lucky legume. This soup reminds me of all the comforts and smells of my grandmother’s house, yet in a recipe I created for a more earth-friendly Aquarian lifestyle. Grab yer okry and let’s get choppin’!
This is a quick, easy set-it-and-forget-it recipe. Don’t let the ingredients list deter you – if you don’t have everything here – just use whatever you have on hand around the basic ingredients, then just chop everything up and throw it in! Pretty much any combination of the below will turn out well. Cook longer for richer flavor, or ready in as little as 30 minutes if you need a fast dinner. Great for the crockpot as well.
Hearty Vegetarian Black-Eyed Pea Stew
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp garlic
1 yellow onion
1/2 each green, red, and yellow peppers (or whatever combination you have on hand; 1-2 peppers total)
(optional) 1-2 jalapenos, diced ~ discard seeds or omit if you prefer milder flavor, add another chili or two with seeds if you like spicy
4-5 celery stalks, diced
4-6 okra, chopped
2 potatoes, diced
2-4 carrots, diced (smaller ~ 4 carrots or ~ 2 large carrots)
1 28-oz can or 2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes (or 4 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced ~ about 8 large tomatoes)
1 lb. fresh black-eyed peas (if fresh is not available, use frozen or canned *drained and rinsed)
(Optional ~ if you need that meaty flavor to feel right ;) 4-6 patties or links vegan/vegetarian sausage, diced
4 cups vegetable stock (1 32-oz box)
Herbs and spices to taste, including…
1-2 bay leaves or 2-4 sage leaves
1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 – 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, to taste
1 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add garlic, onions, and celery and stir occasionally to saute. When onions are soft and begin to turn translucent, add pepper,s, okra, and (optional) jalepeno. Once softened, push aside in the pan and drop a bit more olive oil into an empty area of the pan. Add the spices into the oil here and stir into a paste to season and bloom the spices – just about 30 seconds or so. Then add potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and vegetable stock, stirring to blend. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Adjust salt, pepper and other spices to your taste as the flavor develops. Simmer 30 minutes, up to an hour or longer for richer flavor.
Alternatively: Add all ingredients to your slow cooker, and set to low or high depending on your timing. Stir occasionally and adjust seasoning as needed to taste.
* Note: Even with a slow cooker, I like to “bloom” my spices a bit and will put the olive oil, garlic and onions in on High while I’m chopping everything else. Then clear a space and add a dash more oil, then throw in the spices and stir them into a paste to season. Once you’re ready, just add everything else, as usual.
Serve with a scoop of hot cooked rice on top or cornbread and salad on the side, if desired.
What other ways do you enjoy black-eyed peas? Do tell!
Love and light,