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Liberian Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Recipe By : Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special, page 84
Serving Size : 6 

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 garlic cloves -- peeled
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pinch cayenne -- more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1 green or red bell pepper -- seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels -- (optional)
  • 1 cup sliced fresh or frozen okra -- (optional)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh collards
  • OR kale or chard or spinach -- (optional)
  • 3 cups canned diced tomatoes in juice -- (28-ounce can)*
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro -- (optional), up to 2
  • salt and ground black pepper -- to taste

Serves 6 To 8. Yields About 10 Cups. Total Time: 1 Hour

Black-eyed peas are a favorite ingredient in all of the regions of West Africa. There, traditional soups are rather plain, so to add corn, greens, and/or okra to this soup would be considered quite "fancy" by most West Africans. And if you add the quantity of cayenne that most West Africans would, this soup would be considered insanely fiery by the majority of North Americans!

Try varying the combination of vegetables a bit, playing with the quantities of the optional ingredients, or doubling the amount of greens. Reduce the water and you'll have a stew, delicious served on polenta or grits.

Top each bowl with chopped scallions or more chopped cilantro.

* Canned diced tomatoes, sometimes called "fresh cut", are more convenient than whole tomatoes when you want chopped tomatoes. As a bonus, the tomato pieces are firmer and hold their shape better in soups and stews. Several major brands, such as Hunt and Del Monte, as well as lesser-known brands produce fresh cut diced tomatoes. Look for diced tomatoes packed in juice, not puree.

In a covered saucepan, bring the black-eyed peas, garlic cloves, and 4 cups of the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a nonreactive soup pot, sauté the onions and celery in the 2 tbsp. water on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the cayenne, allspice, and thyme and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the bell peppers, stir well, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the corn, okra, tomatoes, and the remaining 2 cups of water. Cover and bring just to a boil; then add the greens, gently simmer until tender, and remove from the heat until the black- eyed peas are ready.

When the black-eyed peas are tender, remove the garlic cloves or mash them with a fork against the side of the pan. Add the black-eyed peas and their cooking liquid to the soup pot. Stir in the cilantro, if using, and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Adapted from a posting to Veg-Recipes

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