Friday, January 2, 2015

Lemony Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Ham and Kale

I don't know how the world looks where you live, but where I live, it looks a little something like this.

So in honor of the thin blanket of ice and dusting of snow outside my door, and in honor of New Year's Day, I made black-eyed pea soup yesterday. This soup was hearty and earthy without feeling heavy, and the lemon zest made it taste happy and bright.

Lemony Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Ham and Kale
Adapted slightly from Serious Eats
Yield: 4 servings

12 oz. hickory smoked ham, chopped
1/2 to 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large stalks celery, sliced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary, divided
2 Tbsp. lemon zest (the zest of 2 lemons), divided
2 (15-oz) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (I used 1 regular and 1 with bacon)
1-1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (I used 1 quart chicken stock and 1/2 quart reduced sodium vegetable stock)
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale, trimmed, washed, and roughly chopped (perhaps a little less; see notes)
Salt (optional) and black pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until it becomes shimmery. Add the ham, onion, and celery; cook until onion and celery are tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, half the lemon zest, and half the rosemary; cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.

Add the black-eyed peas, stock, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves.

Scoop about 2 cups of soup into a quart-sized mason jar, then use an immersion blender to puree it. (Alternatively, scoop out about 2 cups of soup, let it cool slightly, then puree in a regular blender. You'll need to remove the part of the lid that allows steam to escape, but hold a folded washcloth over the hole to contain splatters.) Return pureed soup to the soup pot.

Add kale to the soup pot, and cook for about 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Taste; add salt and pepper if needed. You may not need any extra salt, depending on the sodium levels in your ham, broth(s), and beans. Right before serving, stir in reserved rosemary and lemon zest.

  • If you prefer, use mild Italian sausage instead of ham. Brown it in your soup pot before adding the onions and celery.
  • If you prefer to start with dried beans rather than canned, see instructions on the original recipe linked above.
  • Now let's talk about kale. First, you'll definitely need to remove the thick center rib from each leaf as part of your kale prep. Then chop it roughly and rinse well since it's easy for dirt and grit to get nestled inside the curly leaves. The recipe I was following said to use 1 bunch, or about 2 quarts chopped kale. Bunches can come in many sizes, and I'm not entirely sure how to accurately measure leafy greens. So here's what I did: chopped my kale, let it float around in a (clean!) sink of water so any grit would settle to the bottom, then transferred the kale into a colander that's about 2.5 quart capacity (about 11 inches in diameter). The kale pretty well filled my colander without me packing it down at all. Then I used only about 2/3 of it in my soup. While kale is yummy and good for you, it can sometimes leave soups tasting a little bland if you add too much of it.

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