This healthy and easy soup will warm you up
Winter has taken hold in our part of the world. So naturally our thoughts turn to soup.
As they generally do this time of year. After all the holiday goodies we
So hit us with your best stuff, winter. We’re prepared!
Recipe: Cabbage, Kielbasa, and Black-Eyed Pea Soup
Kielbasa adds spice to this soup, but you can substitute another sausage if you prefer. Or use some leftover cooked meat or poultry. You can even omit meat entirely it you’d like a vegetarian soup. If you do that, however, we suggest adding a diced, peeled potato to give the soup some extra body (see the Notes).
We like black-eyed peas in this soup, but you can use any bean of your choice. We use canned black-eyed peas simply because they’re convenient. But it’s easy enough to substitute dried ones (it just adds a bit of cooking time). If you plan to use dried black-eyed peas, see the Notes for instructions. If you plan to use another variety of dried bean, you’ll need to presoak them (again, see the Notes for instructions).
As written, this recipe requires about 20 minutes for prep work and initial cooking, plus another 20 to 30 minutes of unattended cooking. (If you’re using dried black-eyed peas, you’ll need to increase the cooking time; if using another variety of dried bean, you’ll need to add soaking time.)
The recipe yields 6 to 8 hearty servings. Leftovers freeze well.
- 1 onion (medium or large)
- 1 large or 2 medium carrots (or to taste)
- 3 cloves of garlic (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon for us, but see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (a half-dozen grinds or so for us)
- ~1 pound cabbage (we like to use Savoy cabbage; a smallish head is about a pound)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- ~1 pound kielbasa (or other spicy sausage; or substitute another cooked meat of your choice)
- 8 cups water or chicken stock (may substitute vegetable stock; water alone works well, but stock adds more flavor)
- 2 to 3 15-ounce cans of black-eyed peas (or another legume of choice; we use 3 cans; see Notes if using dried black-eyed peas or other beans)
- additional kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning, as needed (to taste)
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice of ½ inch or less. Set aside.
- Peel the carrots (or scrape their skins), and cut them into dice of ¼ inch or less. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and cut it into fine dice or thin slices. Set aside.
- Place a 4-quart saucepan or soup pot on medium stovetop heat. Once heated, add the oil. When the oil is hot (in about 15 seconds; it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onions and carrots. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Sauté until the onions are translucent, but not brown (5 to 8 minutes).
- While the onions are sautéing, wash and dry the cabbage and peel off any blemished outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters, then remove the core. With a knife, shred the cabbage across the width of each quarter (no need to shred as finely as for coleslaw; shreds of about ½ inch, or even a bit larger, work fine).
- By now, the onions should be translucent. Add the garlic to the cooking pot and sauté for 1 minute. Then add the thyme and red pepper flakes, and sauté for 15 seconds or so. Add the shredded cabbage, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until the cabbage wilts somewhat (5 minutes or so). We often cover the pan while the cabbage is cooking, but that’s optional.
- While the cabbage is cooking, cut the kielbasa lengthwise into halves or quarters. Then slice it across the width into pieces of about ½ inch. Once the cabbage has wilted and cooked down a bit, add the kielbasa to the cooking pot. Cook another 2 minutes.
- Add the water or stock to the cooking pot, along with the canned black-eyed peas. Bring the soup to a simmer, then cook for 20 to 30 minutes (until the cabbage is tender; but see Notes).
- Adjust the seasoning (salt and black pepper), if necessary, and serve.
- We like to use black-eyed peas in this soup, but any bean will work. White beans would be particularly nice.
- We prefer to use 3 cans of black-eyed peas, but 2 cans would be sufficient if you want to emphasize the cabbage and kielbasa.
- If you substitute dried black-eyed peas for canned: Pick over 1 cup of dried black-eyed peas to remove any dirt or grit. Rinse the black-eyed peas (no need to presoak), then add them to a clean 4-quart cooking pot along with the cooking liquid (8 cups of water or stock). Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, do the prep work and sautéing described in Steps 1 through 7 above (use a separate frying pan for sautéing). Once the sautéing is complete, add the contents of the frying pan to the black-eyed peas, and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes (until both the black-eyed peas and the cabbage are tender).
- If you substitute another variety of dried bean for canned black-eyed peas, you’ll need to presoak: Pick over the dried beans to remove any dirt or grit. Then either soak them in water overnight, or do a quick soak. For the quick soak, place 1 cup of dried beans in a cooking pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, then boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover the pot, and allow the beans to sit for one hour. Once the beans are ready to be cooked, drain the soaked beans and add to a cooking pot. Cook for about 40 minutes. In the meantime, do the prep work and sautéing described in Steps 1 through 7 above (use a separate frying pan for sautéing). Once the sautéing is complete, add the contents of the frying pan to the beans (after the beans have cooked for 40 minutes), and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes (until both the beans and the cabbage are tender).
- You can cook this soup longer than we specify—and it will probably even taste better. What you’ll lose, though, is the bright green of the cabbage (because the longer you cook cabbage, the more color it loses).
- If you omit the kielbasa (and don’t substitute another meat), we suggest adding a diced potato (or two) to the soup for extra body. Just peel and dice the potato(es), then add the pieces to the cooking pot in Step 8.
- We’ve sometimes made this soup with potato instead of black-eyed peas. It’s tasty that way too. So don’t be afraid of your food—experiment!
- As noted above, water works fine as a cooking liquid for this soup. But stock does add more flavor, so that’s what we recommend.
- Red pepper flakes add a nice touch of spice to this soup (and we like that). But feel free to leave them out if spicy isn’t you.
- We generally use dried thyme in this soup, but fresh would work even better.
- Or substitute other herbs or spices to taste. We haven’t tried caraway seed in this soup, but it probably would taste great (maybe start with half a teaspoon).
- We use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt has big flakes, so it doesn’t fill a measuring spoon as “tightly” as regular table salt. Hence, it’s less salty by volume. If you’re using regular table salt rather than kosher salt, use only about half as much as we suggest. But in any case, when it comes to salt (and black pepper), you should always season to your taste, not ours or anyone else’s.
Pictures of Health
“Love this soup,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And we need to detox after all the rich food we had over the holidays. This is just the prescription.”
“Yup,” I said. “Just what the doctor ordered.”
“It may even ward off some pesky winter ailments,” said Mrs K R. “With some help from our flu shots, of course.”
“Could be a miracle cure,” I said. “But do you think it can neutralize the extra holiday pounds you added?”
“Ahem,” said Mrs K R, giving me a look. “This soup may be powerful medicine. But it doesn’t cure foot in mouth disease.”
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