Saturday, February 28, 2009

Soup: Black-eyed Peas with Kale

(Photo: Fresh greens from the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market Feb 28, 2009)

I went down to my Farmers' Market this morning to buy some fresh kale or other fresh hoop-house-grown Michigan greens, because I was so inspired by listening to my friend and chef Maggie Green, RD of The Green Apron Co. who was on the radio show 101 Foods to Save Your Life, broadcast on WYLL out of Chicago this morning. Maggie offered her tips for choosing kale at the market and used her black-eyed peas and greens soup recipe as just one example of how to easily use kale in a delicious recipe. You may hear Maggie on the podcast of the 2/28/09 show, along with me talking about the health benefits from eating kale, instead of leaving it as decoration on your plate! (oops - the podcast is not posted yet, so keep checking back to hear us "live" - I'll post the link when it is active. )

I started with some dried black-eyed peas that I found tucked away in the corner of my Hoosier cabinet, out of sight, out of mind, in other words rather old. After washing and sorting through them to discard those that clearly looked shriveled and/or discolored (only a few), I poured ~4 cups of boiling water over 1-1/2 cups of the dried peas and left them to sit soaking in a medium sauce pan for about 3-4 hours while I went to the Farmers' Market, walked my dog, and had lunch with friends. Upon returning home, I drained the peas, refilled the pan with ~4 cups of cool water, brought the water and peas to boil, then turned down the heat to let them simmer. Because these peas were many years old, I expected them to take forever to soften while cooking, but that was not the case. They were nicely tender after about ~2 hours (maybe even somewhat less time than that). Drain and set aside to add to the soup when ready (or don't bother with this step, which is the cheapest way to get your protein!, and use the frozen or canned black-eyed peas as suggested in this recipe, both options still very economical ways of consuming a healthy vegetable protein source).

(Photo: Fresh kale from Goetz Farm in Riga, MI, where the 265 acre farm is tilled each spring by 3 Clydesdale horses)


• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• ~1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped (I used my frozen peppers, those in jars ok, too)
• 1 medium carrot, scrubbed and chopped small
• 1/2 tsp. powdered cumin
• 1/8 tsp. powdered cayenne pepper (more to taste)
• 1/2 tsp. smoked sweet paprika (more to taste)
• One 16-ounce bag frozen black-eyed peas or 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups) (if cooking your own dried black-eyed peas earlier in the day, start with ~1-1/2 cup)
• 2-3 cups diced potatoes - wash, scrub (do not peel), dice in small pieces about the size of your little fingernail
• 8 ounces fresh or frozen chopped turnip greens or kale (I used ~2 cups, but could have easily used more) - do not use any tough stems (save in the freezer to make soup stock in the future) but tender ones are fine to chop and include
• 8 cups vegetable stock (preferably home-made and/or low-sodium)
• Salt to taste (I did not add any)
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1) Cook potato pieces and carrot pieces together in water to cover in a medium-size pot until tender but not so done that they fall apart or are mushy (check 10 minutes after water comes to a boil). Drain when done.

2) While potatoes and carrots are cooking, place oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and peppers and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes.

3) Add the cumin, cayenne, and smoked paprika seasonings to the onions, etc. Cook stirring for 1 minute. Do not burn garlic or seasonings.

4) Add the broth plus cooked black-eyed peas, chopped greens, cooked potatoes and carrots to onions etc in big soup pot. Bring all to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for ~15-20 minutes until broth and ingredients are heated through (only cook enough so that kale is still bright green). Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary (i.e., check here to see if any salt or black pepper is needed plus add any additional spicy and smoky seasonings to your family’s tastes). Serve immediately.

Makes 8 generous servings

(Photo: Diana's Black-eyed Pea and Kale Soup)

This recipe is vegan, without the usual addition of ham-hocks as in Maggie's original recipe. Instead, I added some smoked sweet red paprika to see if I could accomplish the delicious and satisfying smokey flavor that the ham-hocks would typically add. Thus I added the paprika at the very last step where I say to adjust the seasonings to taste to see if I could taste the difference before and after. All I can say is "Yes, I can!" Oh wow, yes the difference was notable (good before, fantastic afterward!). And I was surprised, too, because I thought I started small, initially adding only 1/2 teaspoon of the smoked paprika to the whole soup pot, i.e., for the 8 cups of broth and assorted beans and vegetables. I did not need to add any more, which is a very economical use of this spice, which might appear rather pricey at first blush (I will make a guesstimate that I might have used 10¢ worth). Thanks, Graham B. for introducing us to this spice. I feel like I cannot live without it now!

(Photo: Mixed young salad greens from Brines Farm - front)

Serve with a green salad (fresh salad greens were also hoop-house-grown and available at our Farmers' Market this morning), some cornbread or other fresh bread. We ate some of the young mixed salad greens pictured above plus my husband's Bird Seed bread; one day he'll get that recipe posted on his blog

Next time I make this soup, I think I'll try other fresh greens, like mustard greens (they were all sold by the time I got the Market this morning) or collard greens, both other delicious and nutritious relatives of kale. These greens also available frozen and fresh in most grocery stores (although often needing to be shipped cross-country), but I always try to support the local farmers in my community whenever possible. I love the tag line "Know your farmer!" at Brines Farm, one of my local farms. I hope you know and help support your farmers, too!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate! How about yours? After listening to this podcast, how are you inspired to use kale?

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Anonymous said...


I tried your Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Kale and loved it! Made a few adaptations (added celery and more carrots and potatoes, as well as some vegetable bouillon cubes).

While I've experienced lovely results in vegan soups using ground cumin to help mimic the smokiness of bacon or ham hocks, I've never tried smoked paprika in soups -- only used it in Spanish Rice -- and was pleasantly surprised what it, when combined with the cumin, brought to the party.

And other internet reviewers said black-eyed peas were bland and flavorless. They were wrong!

Thanks for sharing!


Diana Dyer said...

Tonight I added some smoked paprika to my stand-by red lentil soup recipe instead of the curry I usually use. Wow - I loved the subtle "bacon" flavor. I noticed that I am near the bottom of my jar of this spice, so pretty soon I'll need to refill this favorite and frequently used spice in our house. Now I am inspired to make the black-eyed pea and kale soup again! Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

I boiled 1 lb. of dried/soaked black eyed peas with 3 pieces of kombu, which I chopped fine after cooking and returned to the beans. I added a quart of vegetable broth to the onion, garlic(7 cloves), carrots, chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, sauteed with about 1-1/2 teas. cumin, 1 teas. paprika, 1/8 teas. cayenne. I added some organic chicken broth concentrate to the beans & their cooking liquid, along with the vegetable mixture. Serve in a bowl over a scoop of steamed brown rice. Really delicious. The key is getting flavor of the broth right. This was fabulous!

Diana Dyer said...

So glad you liked the soup. I love that you used 7 cloves of garlic!