Vegetarian Black Eyed Pea Soup for New Year's (and Other Winter Nights)
Black-eyed pea soup for New Year's luck - or to add something wholesome to any old winter evening. Beans, greens... mmm. But the traditional Southern version is usually not vegetarian. Sure, the name of the dish sounds veggie, but people often add ham hocks... and sometimes meat broth or bacon. Oh, my!
Here is a meat-free version. It's my own concoction. I've seen vegetarian black-eyed pea recipes that were chock full of vegetables and minestrone-style. This is more of a traditional black eyed pea soup recipe, but without the meat.
It has two of the traditional New Year's good luck goodies: the black-eyed peas themselves, and the greens. But there are no stewed tomatoes here! If you need the extra luck, that can come on the side -- along with cornbread 'gold'. (But a few sundried tomato sprinkles are a fun addition if you happen to have them around.)
As for flavorings, I like a toasted sesame oil to add richness to bean broth (without adding a lot of sodium). This soup has a bit of smoked seasoning ground in it: smoked paprika, garlic, basil, sea salt. And of course there's plenty of well-cooked onion.
Veggie 'meat' is an optional ingredient. I have used a firm veggie sausage once or twice, but there is TVP 'ham' for folks who really like the New Year's tradition. (It's hardly necessary, though. A little garbanzo flour mixed into the simmering broth will add nutrition and flavor as well -- especially if you are using quick cooking ingredients and not allowing a long time for the flavors to mingle.)
Black-eyed beans come in so many forms. I use frozen. I find that the cooking time is sometimes a little longer than the package says. Other than that, it's very convenient. But for those who like to start with dry beans, here is an article from Hilah Cooking that will help you adjust cooking times. (She's cooking the frozen beans for about 40 minutes and the dried for an hour and a half.)
Due to a problem uploading picture files, I borrowed this image from Sylvar at Flickr Creative Commons. (You can see just a bit of my soup peeking out from the background.)
- 1 cup frozen black eyed peas
- 2/3 cup chopped onions or onion-garlic mix (again, can be frozen)
- 1 cup greens (fresh or frozen chard, kale, or collards)
- Toasted sesame oil
- Trader Joe's South African smoked seasoning (or suitable substitute)
- Optional: A firm veggie sausage or frankfurter (or your choice of TVP crumbles)
- Optional: Sundried tomatoes (the dry kind)
- Fry onions in plenty of sesame oil.
- Add black-eyed peas and stir around in the oil.
- Add water.
- Cook for at least twenty minutes, or until beans have mostly softened.
- Add greens. Optionally, add veggie 'meat' and or sun dried tomato bits.
- Cook for an additional ten minutes, or until beans reach desired texture and flavors mingle.
- Add smoked seasoning and additional sesame, to taste.
This smoke seasoning with the built-in grinder is very good, and goes perfectly with the soup. It is more expensive buying it online than buying it at Trader Joes -- but most people aren't fortunate enough to have TJs half a mile away.
The smoked seasoning can be bought together with 'Every Day Seasoning' (also in a bottle with a grinder) and 21 Seasoning Salute (sodium-free). So many soups and one-pot dishes can be made with just these seasonings.
This may be the most authentic alternative: textured vegetarian protein with a ham flavor. It's not too difficult to get bacon or sausage flavored crumbles either.
This black eyed pea soup mix isn't touted as having quick-cooking black eyed beans, but based on the reduced cooking time listed on the package, I think it does.