Monday, September 24, 2012

Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

A hearty soup for cooler weather

(updated 12/2018)  Autumn has officially started for us northern hemisphere dwellers.  And cooler weather makes many of us crave hearty soups.  So this is soup week on Kitchen Riffs!

We’ll be presenting two new soups this week.  Today’s is Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup.  Later this week, we’ll do Leek and Potato Soup, a classic favorite. 

This post was originally posted as a guest post on Cafe Terra, a friend's blog that no longer exists (Terra has become a successful author of romance novels, so that's where she's spending her time). So that the recipe isn't lost, we're posting it here.

Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

Recipe:  Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

Black-eyed peas and cabbage both combine well with ham, so we’re preparing this soup with a quick ham stock made from ham shanks (making it this way takes less time than the traditional ham-bone method).  If ham doesn’t appeal, you could easily skip this part and instead substitute poultry, beef, or vegetable stock.

Black-eyed peas don’t require soaking (unlike most beans and legumes).  They cook reasonably quickly and are already plenty tender.  They’ll cook in an hour and a half or so (maybe a bit longer if they’re very old).  That gives you just enough time to simmer them with the ham shanks and make a nice broth.

Depending on how thick you make this soup (i.e., how much water you add), this recipe makes 4 to 5 quarts — which is quite a bit.  But leftovers freeze well, and you get several future meals from it. 

This dish requires about 1½ hours total; active prep time is 20 to 30 minutes.

  • 1 - 2 smoked ham shanks or hocks (about a pound; a little more or less is fine)
  • ~12 cups water
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional; see Notes)
  • 1 medium onion (red adds nice color, but any kind will do)
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 - 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or thinly sliced
  • 1 - 1½ pounds cabbage
  • 1 - 1½ pounds potatoes (more or less; about the same quantity as the cabbage)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or neutral cooking coil
  • additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional; if you like spicy, you might want to double)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons ham base (very optional; see Notes)
  1. Rinse ham shanks or hocks and put in a large stock pot or Dutch oven (one that holds at least 6 quarts).  Add 12 cups water.
  2. Place pot on high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. While the water is heating, pick over black-eyed peas to remove any dirt or stones.  Rinse and add to the pot with the optional 1 teaspoon salt (see Notes).
  4. When water comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and skim any scum that forms.  Simmer for 1 hour.
  5. While the stock simmers, peel onion and mince into ½-inch dice.  Wash and peel the carrots, and cut into small dice, half-rounds, or rounds (whichever shape you prefer).  Peel garlic and mince fine.  Clean and core the cabbage; cut cabbage into thin strips (½ inch or less) or shred.  
  6. Scrub, peel, and cut potatoes into dice of ½ inch; cover with cold water so they don’t discolor.
  7. At the hour mark, check the black-eyed peas to see whether they’re getting tender.  If they’re not, cook another few minutes.  If they are almost tender (they should be), heat a skillet on medium until it’s hot.  
  8. When hot, add the oil to the skillet.  When the oil is heated (it’ll take just seconds; you’ll see the oil shimmer or ripple), add the minced onion, carrots, and garlic; stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté until the onion is translucent (5 to 8 minutes).
  9. Once the onion is translucent, add the thyme and optional red pepper flakes, and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add the mixture to the pot.
  10. Fish out the ham shank and set aside to cool for a few minutes, and add the cabbage.  Drain the potatoes and add them as well.  Set the timer for 20 minutes.
  11. Right now is the time to taste the stock and adjust seasoning; and add more water if necessary to achieve the consistency you prefer (I usually need to add another 2 cups or so).  If the flavor of the stock isn’t as strong as you’d like, this would be the point where you could add a little ham base (see Notes).
  12. Once the ham shank is cool enough to handle (5 minutes), bone it and cut meat into small dice (you may want to discard the fat).  Add the boned meat to the pot.  Taste again and adjust seasoning.
  13. If you want a less chunky, more homogenized texture to your soup, this would be a good time to use a stick blender to puree it (see Note).
  14. When the timer goes off, check to see whether the black-eyed peas are done.  If they are (they should be), the soup is ready to serve.  If not, cook a few more minutes until they are done to your taste.
Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

  • The ham shank should give your broth a nice ham flavor.  But if you want to up the flavor quotient, in Step 10 you could add a tablespoon or two of ham base (commercially prepared ham stock that’s been reduced to a paste).  I usually buy the “Better than Bouillon” brand, which many supermarkets carry.  But other brands also have good flavor and work well.
  • If you want a particularly flavorful broth, you can simmer the ham shank with the water for half an hour before you add the black-eyed peas.  You could also add a peeled onion that’s been cut in half, and several cloves of peeled garlic to help flavor the stock.  (Fish out the onion halves when you remove the ham shank in Step 9.)
  • I don’t think celery adds much to this soup, but if you have some on hand and crave its flavor, by all means dice some up and add it to the onions and carrots in Step 7.
  • I suggest adding salt in Step 3; its purpose is to help season the black-eyed peas.  Some people don’t add salt to dried legumes until they’re nearly cooked because they think it makes them tough and they’ll take longer to cook.  If you’re of that camp — or just don’t want too much added salt — you can taste the stock after it’s cooked for an hour (Step 6), and add some salt then if you think necessary.
  • Although most of the cooking on this dish takes place unattended, you do need to check on the pot from time to time.  So this is a good recipe to make on a day when you’re around the house — perhaps on a weekend.  
  • If you use a stick blender to puree your soup in Step 12, use one with a metal shaft.  Plastics shafts can crack (ask me how I know!).
  • As noted, this soup freezes quite well.  You can take this from the freezer, put it in a saucepan with a bit of water, and be eating soup in about 20 minutes or so.  When reheating, you’ll want to watch the pot a bit after the first 5 minutes so the soup doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan.  Just stir it from time to time to prevent this.  
  • If you want a garnish for the soup, chopped parsley or croutons would be nice.

You may also be interested in reading about:
White Bean and Potato Soup
Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup
Bean and Cabbage Soup
Tuscan Bean Soup
Easy Lentil Soup
Split Pea Soup with Greens
Split Pea Soup with Bacon
Curried Cauliflower Soup
Sweet Potato Soup with Chilies and Corn
Soupe au Pistou
Chili Basics
Vegetarian Chili
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans
Homemade Croutons


Terra said...

I am super excited to see all your other lovely soup recipes, Yum! I need to make your white bean soup. In Tucson, there was this small restaurant that had delicious white bean soup, my favorite:-) Gosh I love this time of the year, soup ROCKS! Thank you again for your wonderful guest post! Take care, Terra

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

The weather has been a lot cooler by the evening and having a soup on dinner table makes me feel home. :) Off to check out your recipe.

TastefullyJulie said...

The ONLY good think about Fall weather is making soup! I love the rosemary in your lentil soup. I'll definitely be trying that :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Terra, the white bean soup is good. Heck, all of these soups are good! My current favorite is the one I just posted over at your site. Thanks again for hosting my guest post (and of course for commenting here).

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Nami, Mrs K R and I are looking forward to tons of soup this fall. Hope you enjoy the post over at Terra's, and thanks for commenting.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Julie, rosemary is such a great herb. It's a natural with lentils and a lot of other beans - great flavor combo. Thanks for your comment.

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

I am in soup heaven my friend, everything looks perfect :D
Congrats on the guest post!

Choc Chip Uru

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Uru, lots to choose from! Thanks for your comment.

Kristy @ the wicked noodle said...

That first picture is amazing. Looks like I could reach right through the screen and have a spoonful. I love bean soups, too! Off to check out the recipes!

Claudia said...

Okay - I'm going ... I'm going ... don't nag. But what an array you ahve here - you know I'm a soup-o-holic, don't you?

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Kristy, aren't bean soups great? So much flavor. Thanks for your kind words, and your comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Claudia, sorry about the nagging! ;-) We're soup-o-holics too! They're great anytime, but particularly when the weather gets chilly. Thanks for your comment.

Vicki Bensinger said...

I'm always looking for new and hearty soups and you come up with ones I've never tried. I'm excited to try some of these especially now that temps are finally feeling like fall. This soup looks delicious! I've never tried a soup with black eyes peas so I'm looking forward to making this. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Just what I'd need for lunch! So comforting and tasty. Hearty soups are wonderful.



bams Kitchen said...

Hi there John, great soup and I can tell just from the list of your ingredient that this broth is going to be super flavorful.

Ali said...

I'm not quite ready for more soups, I must admit! I do love when soup season comes around though...they're such an easy meal to make! Thank you for sharing your gazpacho recipe...something I had hoped to cook this year and it will be a perfect Spring soup!!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Vicki, soup weather is finally coming, isn't it? Black-eyed peas are great in soup, particularly paired with a flavorful meat like ham. Thanks for your comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Rosa, this would make a great lunch! Or dinner. I've never tried it for breakfast, but if I was hungry enough it'd be fun there, too. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Bam, ham shanks make such a nice broth - not quite as rich as a hambone, but pretty close. Thanks for your comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Ali, the gazpacho is a really nice recipe - the best I've ever tasted. Truly good stuff. Thanks for your comment.

CJ - Food Stories said...

Heading over now :-)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi CJ, thanks!

mjskit said...

Just came back from Terra's to say "great post"! Love your parade of soups!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your first guest post! That's always exciting--I've always been intrigued by the possibilities of them but I guess that requires working up to :) I'm in soup mode myself--made some lovely tomato pepper basil soup yesterday--and I can't wait to give this a try. Thanks!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi MJ, glad you enjoyed the soup parade and the post at Terra's. Thanks for letting me know!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi wallflourgirl, it's definitely soup season, at least here at Kitchen Riffs central. Thanks for taking time to comment.

Anne@FromMySweetHeart said...

John...I am bookmarking all of your FABULOUS soup recipes. You know...I love to eat soup all year long. But I especially love to make big batches on Sunday to enjoy for lunch all week long! Your photos are gorgeous but I'm heading over to Cafe Terra now for a closer look! : )

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Anne, glad you enjoyed them! During this time of the year I'm always making a big batch of soup and freezing it. I make soup at least once a week, often more. Thanks for your comment.

ChgoJohn said...

WOW! What a bounty you've presented us with. I'll be returning to this page throughout the months ahead. This is one great post. Now I'm off to see your guest post. I already love its name!

Anonymous said...

Looks so hearty delicious, I feel like its getting cold there now in the Northern Hemisphere

Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake said...

I'm still willing to make this beautiful looking soup even though winter is over for us down under. Just love hearty and tasty soups! :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi John, I was a little surprised myself at how many soups I've done. As you can see, we really do enjoy soup around here. Thanks for your comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Raymund, we're flirting with chilly weather. We've had temps down to the mid-40s (F), although yesterday it got up into the mid-80s. But we're all in the chilly weather mindset, and that's what counts! Thanks for your comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Jenny, you'll probably still have a few chilly days, so this soup would be perfect on one of those! Thanks for the comment.

Kim Bee said...

Okay I'll admit I'm not a soup person but I think you've completely changed my outlook on it. I want to try this one and I am dying to try your chili. Off to check out your guest post. Congrats on your first one.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Kim, soup is good stuff! I'll have to convert you. ;-) The chili is really good, and worth a look. Thanks for your comment.