Mama Steph’s simple, spicy (and good for you!) black-eyed pea soup

There is a tradition down here in the south of eating black-eyed peas on January 1st for “good luck.”  Practically everyone I know does it, and I do it, too, though I don’t really believe in luck.  🙂

It’s a good thing I like black-eyed peas. I like purple-hull peas from the garden even more, but they don’t work on New Years Day, apparently.

So I made black-eyed pea soup. It is a healthy soup to kick off the New Year, as we  begin to rethink all of the not-so-healthy choices we’ve made over the weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

To be honest, though, even if you’re not thinking in terms of eating lighter and healthier,  I believe you’ll really enjoy this spicy soup. It has great sausage flavor, and the garlic and red pepper flakes give it a nice kick.  Who wants bland soup?

Here’s how I made it light:

First, I used polska kielbasa in this soup, which gave it a lovely flavor.  There were two choices at the grocery store, regular polska kielbasa, or turkey polska kielbasa.  Check out the differences there are between the two, fat and calories-wise:   (clicking on the pictures should take you to a larger version)

Turkey polska-kielbasa
Regular polska-kielbasa

There’s a big difference! I was curious as to whether it would taste good, and I have to say….it was wonderful! I love this brand, and will not use the full-fat version again.  There’s just no need.

This is the brand I used, along with some nice organic garlic for flavor and heart-healthiness!

Another way to keep it light is to use olive oil instead of bacon fat, which is the traditional way of cooking black-eyed peas.  The olive oil gives you heart-healthy fat, and using it and onions in the peas as they are cooking give them tenderness and flavor without saturated fat.

Here’s the recipe; feel free to substitute pinto beans or others that you might prefer to black-eyed peas. It’s not an exact science, so play with it to make it what you and your family will enjoy most

Mama Steph’s Simple and Spicy Black-eyed Pea Soup

1- 16 ounce bag of dried black-eyed  peas, soaked acording to package directions, then cooked and seasoned with salt to your taste. (alternatively, use two 15 oz. cans of the peas,drained and rinsed.)  I cook my peas with an onion, chopped, and a teaspoon or so of olive oil, and I don’t salt until they’re almost done.

1  medium onion, chopped (this is separate from any onion you cooked your peas with.)

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1 TBS olive oil

1 package of polska-kielbasa, sliced into medallions

Chicken broth (6 cups or so  if you have it; fill in with water if you feel you need a bit more broth)

salt and pepper or Tony Cachere’s seasoning, or other seasoned salt, to taste

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 TBS dried parsley flakes


Pour olive oil into the bottom of a stock pot or dutch oven on a burner at medium heat.

When the oil is hot, add sliced sausage and chopped onion.

Cook, stirring, for three minutes or until the onions begin to turn clear.

Add minced garlic, stir in, and cook for another minute.

Add cooked peas.  (note: while I cooked a whole 16 oz package, I took out about a cup of the cooked peas for another use.  There were still plenty.)

Add chicken broth and stir.

Season with salt (or a seasoning blend like Tony Cacheres’ Cajun blend in the green can, which is our favorite) to taste.

Add red pepper flakes and parsley flakes.

Gently simmer ingredients for at least 20 minutes, stirring often so that peas do not scorch.

I used my chicken stock that I learned how to make in Chef Jackson’s cooking school. Here’s the recipe for that.

Don’t allow your peas, as you’re cooking them, or the soup itself, to come to a full rolling boil.  Simmer gently, so that your peas don’t turn into mush.

Simple and spicy and really good for you!

I also tried out the Pioneer Woman’s black-eyed pea dip, which was pretty good.

Black-eyed pea dip with pita chips

Here’s the recipe from PioneerWoman.com:

Black-Eyed Pea Dip

  • 1 can (14-ounce) Can Black-eyed Peas
  • 1/4 whole Onion, Chopped Fine
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 8 slices Jarred Jalapenos
  • 1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Salsa
  • Hot Sauce, to taste
  • Salt And Black Pepper To Taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain black-eyed peas and partially mash, leaving some whole.
Add all other ingredients, stirring to combine.
Spread into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Serve with tortilla chips!
*Note: if you have them available, you can use the canned black-eyed peas and jalapenos (they’re canned together.) If you do this, you can omit the extra jalapenos.


For dessert, the boys wanted their favorite thing I make, which, happily, is just about the easiest: the no-bake chocolate- peanut butter bars.  Click here for recipe.

They are so decadently delicious. Creamy, better than Reese’s peanut butter cups could imagine, and much easier than making those buckeyes that are so yummy.  Win!

No-bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars

That was my cooking for this day; I love that I started off the new year with two of my favorite people, Jacob and Jared, and was able to stay home working  creating in the kitchen all day.  That always makes me feel happy and content.

Sharing it now with you is the perfect way to end the day!

Happy New Year, friends, and may all your hopes and dreams be fulfilled in 2012!

Sweet SugarBelle’s cookies from Foodista.com – Aren’t they perfect?

You might also like:

Super-flavorful Curried Lentil Soup

Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup


10 thoughts on “Mama Steph’s simple, spicy (and good for you!) black-eyed pea soup

    1. You could, you’d just have to watch very closely or you’ll end up with a big pot of mush with sausage in it. Black eyed peas are notorious for dissolving into a gray mess. 🙂

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