Thick and hearty, my black-eyed pea soup is brimming with lean ground beef, finely diced veggies, and lots of delicious spices. It’s just the soup to prepare when your body and soul are in need of some warmth and nourishment.
Black-Eyed Pea Soup, My Homage to a Childhood Favorite
The first time I ever tried black-eyed peas was at the original “Hellas Cafe”, a small Greek restaurant located in the Greektown section of downtown Detroit, about 30-40 minutes from where I grew up.
Every now and then on a Saturday afternoon for lunch, my mother and father and I would drive to Hellas (long ago closed, sadly) and order a big bowl of their famous black-eyed pea soup as a starter to our meal, without fail.
That bowl of soup alone was worth the drive to Greektown. That’s how good it was!
And knowing my mom, she would’ve been perfectly content making a complete meal just off of the soup and the fresh, warm basket of crusty bread they always served alongside of it. But since we always ordered other tasty morsels as well, the three of us would just set the bowl in the middle of the table, each taking turns getting spoonfuls and dipping bread, sharing the experience.
This particular black-eyed pea soup was thick, hearty, rich and flavorful from the spiced tomatoey broth. It was clearly filled with love and nurture, which could be tasted in every bite.
Filled with lean ground beef (my own hearty addition to the recipe), lots of spices and bits of finely diced veggies, my hope is that this take on black-eyed pea soup, a childhood favorite of mine, will warm your belly and your soul as much as it did (and still does!) mine.
How to Make a Rich and Hearty Black-Eyed Pea Soup
When black-eyed pea soup is prepared so that it’s thick, rich and hearty, one can totally enjoy it as a main meal, especially with some fresh and warm crusty bread on the side.
It’s wonderfully filling and nourishing, loaded with protein and copious amounts of delicious aromatics.
To keep things simple for this recipe, I opt to use organic black-eyed peas from a can, and give them a good rinse before using.
I also like to add some lean ground beef, finely diced carrots, celery, onion, garlic and spices such as cumin, cinnamon, and oregano.
The result is a rich and hearty black-eyed pea soup simmered up to tender and flavorful perfection in around 40 minutes!
Here’s a peek at my black-eyed pea soup recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe…)
- To begin, I brown the lean ground beef in my soup pot, and then add to it my aromatic ingredients including the spices, dried oregano and a hint of tomato paste.
- Next, I add my black-eyed peas, along with my beef stock/broth, and gently simmer the soup for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, I use my potato masher to sort of “mash” the peas just a little bit to help release their natural starches, then simmer an additional 20 minutes, until thick and hearty.
- I finish the black-eyed soup off with fresh parsley, lemon zest and juice before ladling and drizzling with extra olive oil and serving with warm bread.
Black-Eyed Pea Soup
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6 (if using bowls)
Nutrition Info: 697 calories
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- Olive oil
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 6 (15 ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed well
- 5 cups beef stock/broth, warm
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Place a large pot over medium-high heat, and once hot, add in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil; once the oil is hot, add in the ground beef, and using your spoon, break up the beef to crumble it well, and allow it to brown for about a minute or two.
- Next, add in the sea salt and black pepper, as well as the diced onion, celery, carrots, minced garlic and dry oregano, and stir to combine, allowing this mixture to cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add in the cumin, cinnamon and tomato paste, and stir to combine; allow this to cook for about 1-2 minutes, to cook out the “raw” flavor or the tomato paste.
- Then, add in the black-eyed peas and the beef stock/broth, stir to combine, and simmer gently, covered, for about 20 minutes; after 20 minutes, gently smash the black-eyed peas lightly with a potato masher to break them up a bit and release their natural starches, then cover, and simmer an additional 20 minutes, stirring every so often to keep the peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- To finish the black-eyed pea soup, add in the chopped parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice, and check to see if you need to add additional salt/pepper; serve with a little drizzle of olive oil on top, with warm, crusty bread on the side.
Tips & Tidbits for my Black-Eyed Pea Soup:
- Grab some canned black-eyed peas: When I’m ready to whip up a comforting soup, the last thing I want to do is go through the long process of having to soak the beans before using them. I avoid the soaking altogether by using some good-quality, canned black-eyed peas. All I have to do is give them a thorough rinse and I’m good to go for this soup—no muss nor fuss!
- Lean, grass-fed ground beef: I’ve been buying organic grass-fed beef these days, because not only is it healthier, but the flavor is richer aswell. If you can find it, opt for this higher quality meat. It’s typically not that much more expensive than traditionally-raised beef, believe it or not. And, choose 85/15 for good flavor and the right amount of fat.
- Dried oregano, or fresh: The recipe here calls for a bit of dried oregano, but if you have fresh, feel free to use it. Swap out about 1 tablespoon of fresh for the dried, and add it in at the end.
- Prepare ahead for easy black-eyed pea soup: This soup can be prepared up to 2-3 days ahead of when you plan on serving it, and the flavors will be that much more delicious. This allows the herbs/spices and other ingredients to marry and mingle a bit. You can even freeze it if you have leftovers, or want to make a batch for later, then thaw in the fridge for a couple of days before reheating in a pot.
Cook’s Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!