Black-eyed Pea and Rice Soup

In the South black-eyed peas are a good luck food at New Years and this soup is one of my husband’s favorites to have after Christmas, since he has Southern roots. It is hearty, yet somehow feels light compared to all the rich foods one has been consuming during the holiday season. The soup will need to cook for about two hours, and you will want to plan ahead for this recipe since you need to soak the black-eyed peas overnight before making the soup. Cook the rice ahead as well, and you may want to chop all your vegetables when you put your beans on to soak, then cook the soup the following day. The soup (minus the rice) freezes beautifully. I divide it into individual portions, put them in the freezer, and then we continue to enjoy this delicious dish for lunch during the winter months.

Black-eyed Pea Soup
2 c. black-eyed peas, soaked overnight covered with water, then rinsed
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery (use 2 ribs)
1 c. chopped red and yellow bell peppers
1 carrot, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 c.)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large ham hock (I use locally cured brown sugar ham hock)
10 c. chicken or vegetable stock
2 fresh bay leaves
1 Tbsp. dried thyme or fresh thyme to taste
1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper or more to taste (red pepper flakes work well, too)
3 c. chopped greens (I use a combination of Kale, beet greens, and Swiss chard)
1-1/2-2 c. cooked cold basmati rice

In an 8-quart stockpot heat olive oil on medium heat. When hot, add onions and sauté 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add celery, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic. Stir to coat with oil, then add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Sauté 5 minutes to soften vegetables. Add ham hock and cook 2 minutes, stirring to mix. Add black-eyed peas, chicken stock, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Add bay leaves and thyme. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Add Aleppo pepper and greens. Cook 30 more minutes. Taste to see if black-eyed peas are soft. If not cook 10 minutes longer. Check peas again. Add rice (you may want more or less according to your taste) and heat through for 15 minutes. Remove ham hock and cut into bite-size pieces. Return ham pieces to the pot and cook for 10 minutes longer, then serve. Serves 8-10.

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