Give greens a chance: Black eyed pea soup with ham and greens

turnip greensMy mom would think I’ve lost my mind if she knew that I eat this soup.

My mom was not a picky eater, by any means, but she drew the line at greens. She’d eat boiled cabbage, boiled yellow squash, and that sort of thing, but she would not touch greens; no turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens or kale ever graced our family table.

Because of her outspoken dislike of these vegetables (and this is cautionary to all of us who are parents), I assumed greens were disgusting and I hated them, sight unseen…or flavor untasted, more accurately.

Carmen's greens
Carmen’s fabulous greens and baby red potatoes

However, my friend Carmen Sosa brought greens to my tv station’s kitchen set when I had her on as a guest during my cooking segment a few months ago. She was there to promote the local farmers market, and she brought ingredients from the market to prepare: fresh turnip greens that had just been pulled from the field, and baby red potatoes. She brought a bit of bacon, an onion, and an old cast iron skillet, chopped and sauteed the bacon and onion, steamed the little potatoes, and dropped those greens in the skillet to wilt into the steamy goodness there. Now, I initially thought I’d try the greens and wouldn’t like them, but as I watched her prepare them, I realized that this was going to be GOOD. Simple, and good. And it was. Everyone on the set, myself included, devoured those greens. Here’s the recipe and video, if you’re interested.   Really, be brave.

via dishingupthedirt.com
via dishingupthedirt.com

I had been missing out! Now a convert, I make greens more often and in different ways.  (Not sopping wet and overcooked in a pot, however; I can’t get behind that.) Yes, they are extraordinarily good for you, being packed with all kinds of great nutrients. But they’re delicious, too, and I wish I could tell my mom. I think she’d agree with me if she tried some of my new recipes.  Plus, the vitamin and mineral content in these green superfoods is such a great payoff!

food matters greens

This particular recipe I came up with for the New Year, so it features black eyed peas with the greens; however, you could substitute pinto beans or navy beans if you’d prefer. Also, to make this recipe in a flash, use precut ham (I find packages of cubed ham in my grocery store’s meat department) and buy organic and pre-washed greens to save yourself the washing-off process. This would be a great recipe for your slow cooker; what a treat to find this soup waiting for you when you got home at night, making your house smell fragrant and wonderful!

Black-eyed pea soup with ham and greens:

1 TBS olive or canola oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup bell pepper (any color), diced

6-8 oz ham, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, diced (or 4 tsp minced jarred garlic)

one quart vegetable or chicken broth

two cans black-eyed peas, drained (or soak and cook your own, about three cups worth)

2 cups chopped turnip greens, kale, or spinach

28 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tsp Johnny Chacheres or other Creole seasoning

salt and pepper, to taste


1. Heat oil over medium heat in large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook until onion is translucent. Do not allow to burn.

2. Add chopped ham and garlic, and cook for two minutes, just long enough to warm them.

3. Add chicken broth, peas, greens, tomatoes and seasonings.

4. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you may cook together in crock pot for six hours. Your house will smell wonderful!

I hope you’ll give in to the allure of greens, too. I think you’ll be as glad as I am that you finally broke free of your previous assumptions about them. Give greens a chance.


More soup recipes here, including one with kale greens! 

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Copyright 2014 Stephanie Hill Frazier. All rights reserved.


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