Ring in the New Year with a ladle of good luck! Ditch the standard serving of black-eyed peas for a bowl of hearty Black-eyed Pea & Rice Soup. Serve it up with a sampling of optional vinegar condiments (white wine, cider or hot pepper infused). Supplement your bowl of good luck with a baked side of your favorite cornbread recipe, a prepared package of Martha White (follow instructions on back and be sure to add a douse of piping hot bacon grease to the batter), or with assorted artisan, flat or toasted breads. Add earthen wares, rustic flatware and the trusty cloth napkin for visual appeal.
Ingredients and instructions are below, followed by a little black-eyed pea trivia.
- 9 oz. dried black-eyed peas
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- 3 oz. lean smoked ham, finely diced
- ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves, or ¼ tsp. dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 ½ cups water
- ½ cup brown rice
- Chopped fresh parsley or chives to garnish
- Pick over the beans, cover generously with cold water and soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain the beans, put in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cove, plus 2 inches. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well.
- Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently until softened. Add garlic, carrots, celery and bell pepper, stir well and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the drained beans, ham, thyme, bay leaf, stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally for 1 hour, or until beans are just tender.
- Stir in the rice and season soup with salt and pepper if needed. Continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until the rice and beans are tender.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve garnished with parsley or chives.
- A glass of pinot noir or red wine of choice is a flavorful complement to meal preparation and mealtime!
Here’s a little trivia about the black-eyed pea, also known as the black-eyed bean or goat pea This legume is a subspecies of the cowpea grown around the world for its medium-sized, edible bean. The common commercial variety is called the California Blackeye; it is pale-colored with a prominent black spot. In the American South, there are countless varieties, many of them heirloom that vary in size from the small lady peas to very large ones. State and municipal farmers’ markets are the best source of black-eyed pea varieties. The color of the eye may be black, brown, red, pink or green. All the peas are green when freshly shelled and brown or buff when dried. A popular variation of the black-eyed pea is the purple hull pea; it is usually green with a prominent purple or pink spot. The currently accepted botanical name for the black-eyed pea is Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata, although previously it was classified in the genus Phaseolus. Vigna unguiculata subsp. dekindtiana is the wild relative and Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis is the related asparagus bean. Other beans of somewhat similar appearance, such as the frijol ojo de cabra (goat’s eye bean) of northern Mexico, are sometimes incorrectly called black-eyed peas, and vice versa.
The first domestication probably occurred in West Africa, but the black-eyed pea is widely grown in many countries in Asia; it was introduced into the Southern United States as early as the 17th century in Virginia. Most of the black-eyed pea cultivation in the region, however, took firmer hold in Florida and the Carolinas during the 18th century, reaching Virginia in full force following the American Revolution. The crop would also eventually prove popular in Texas. Throughout the South, the black-eyed pea is still a widely used ingredient in soul food and various types of Southern U.S. cuisine. The planting of crops of black-eyed peas was promoted by George Washington Carver because, as a legume, it adds nitrogen to the soil and has high nutritional value. Black-eyed peas contain calcium (41 mg) folate (356 mcg), protein (13.22 g), fiber (11.1 g) and vitamin A (26 IU), among other nutrients, all for less than 200 Calories, in a 171-g, one-cup serving.
KNU wishes all neighbors a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
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