Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Soup Of Black-Eyed Peas

A Soup Of Black-Eyed Peas
and Collard Greens in Ham Broth

Soup is comfort food, and we can produce some really rich, full bodied and marvelously delicious soups in just minutes using a pressure cooker. Every household has a favorite recipe, and in the Southern states of the US, some of the best soups feature local ingredients like black-eyed peas and collard greens. This well known combination is steeped in history and has become a popular dish throughout the country.

For more interesting factoids about American traditions that are centered on Black-eyed Peas, see my article on the website. You might even get a smile or two about what some of my opinionated elderly kinfolk had to say about the quaint old Southern custom of eating black-eyed peas as a lucky New Year dish.

Oh yeah, and there's even another pressure cooker recipe featuring more black-eyed peas, too. A soup made in the pressure cooker can be cooked in minutes, but still taste like it has simmered all day. The foundation for any soup is a well seasoned broth or stock that compliments and enhances the flavors of all the ingredients.

So lets begin this soup with a ham broth. I always save the meaty ham bone and the pieces of the smoky outer rind in the freezer for making soup broth. I'm adding aromatics like onions, garlic and cilantro, and my seasoning are simple bay leaves and rosemary.

Oh, but the aroma... I wish you could smell how delicious this is as the scent fills my kitchen. It always reminds me of sitting around my grandma's big old farmhouse table as she ladled her homemade soup into those big old fashioned soup plates.

Did you know that our grandparents scrimped in hard times as well as good times, and all cooks were
frugal in those bygone days so there was very little kitchen waste. Quite literally, what we so casually toss in the garbage today, was routinely 'recycled' and every sort of vegetable and meat scrap was boiled down for the best tasting stocks and broth to make those wonderful soups we all remember. Another big side benefit, was getting a big meal of soup that was practically free. So, plan ahead and freeze those scraps for your next pot of soup.


I'm using a rather small ham bone here and there is probably only about 1 1/2 cups of usable meat. Not to worry, here's a secret trick for stretching a small amount of meat like this so no one will ever know just how skimpy you were. Tear, cut or chop the meager amount meat into fine shreds and your soup will appear to be loaded with lots of meat.

Remember, most of the flavor has been cooked out of the meat and is now in that great broth, so there's not much left for the meat to do except look good swimming next to all the other ingredients, and a little goes a long way. You'll see what I mean at the end.

Not being pressed for time, I made my broth a day ahead, but that's certainly not necessary if you are in a hurry and need to get dinner on the table like NOW.

After the broth is cooked, strain it and discarded all the non meat solids. Like the meat, all those veggie pieces gave up every bit of their tasty goodness and its all in the broth and waiting for your soup fixin's, so there isn't any point served in keeping them around. If you do make the broth ahead of time, refrigerated it over night to make it easier to remove the unwanted fat from the gelatinous broth.

With the broth in the pressure cooker, add the meat and the black-eyed peas. And please remember to pick through any dried beans to remove any tiny pebbles, bits of sticks and any weird looking peas or alien things that are trying to masquerade as peas. Give them a good rinse to remove any surface dust before dropping them into the pot.

Give it good stir to get everything acquainted. Wash the greens. All kinds of things like to hide in those lovely leaves, so do a good job. Cut the thick center rib out of each leaf... and no, I don't waste these either. I slice 'em and throw the lot in the freezer to be added to my next vat-o-broth.

You don't have to use collard greens if your family prefers something else. I've interchanged chard, kale, turnip or mustard greens, and fresh spinach.

The greens go on top of the rest of the ingredients... did I mention you should use a pressure cooker that is at least 6-quarts in size? That's really the minimum size I recommend for all practical purposes. Don't stir the greens into the soup until after it's all cooked.

Here we are! And just look at all that meat... really fools the eye, eh? I served this soup with some really powerful sour dough bread and butter -- yep, the real deal -- and a glass of ice cold milk.
There was barely enough leftover for my lunch, and it was mostly broth. Actually, the broth is so good I could just drink a cup of it by itself; it really is THAT scrumptious.

Try my recipe and let me know what you think.

A Soup Of Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens in Ham Broth

1 meaty ham bone
1 cup leftover ham with bits of the smoked rind
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro stems and leaves, packed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
A pinch of dried red pepper flakes, or amount to taste
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
8 cups water, or more if need to cover the ham bone

Making this broth is fast and easy, and it will turn out the most delicious base for the finished soup. All the ingredients go into the pot at once. Lock the lid in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat, immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure. Cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and use the natural release method before opening the lid. Take out the bone and pick off all the meat bits for the soup. Strain the broth and discard the non-meat solids, toss out the bone, any largish pieces of fat and gristle, and don't forget to remove the bay leaves.

2 cups dried Black-Eyed Peas
1 bunch fresh Collard Greens
ham broth from above

Sort through the dried peas to remove any unwanted debris like teeny pebbles, sticks, loose skins and blemished peas, then rinse -- no need to soak -- them to remove surface dust. Add the clean peas to the meaty ham broth and give it a stir.

Submerge the collard greens in a sink or filled with cold water and swish them around to loosen and remove any dirt or hidden bugs. Remove and inspect the leaves one at a time, tearing off any bruised or discolored edges before laying them side on a towel to drain. Cut out the thick center rib and then stack the leaves and cut through the middle of the stack to divide them into two sections. Roll up each pile of stacked leaved and then cut them into one inch sections. Loosely pile the cut collard leaves on top of the peas and broth. Do not stir.

Lock the lid in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat, immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure. Cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and use the natural release method before opening the lid. Stir to blend the soup and ladle into soup mugs. Leftover soup will freeze well.

Cook's Notes: If you don't have a nice ham bone handy, choose any other variety of smoked meats such as ham hocks, pork neck bones, turkey legs or thighs, but check the cooking time as these will all need additional minutes to cook.

Another option is bacon ends. These odd bits and pieces are thicker and meatier than sliced breakfast type bacon and there is often a nice bit of the smoked rind that adds wonderful flavor and aroma to the soup. Skim off any excess fat from surface of broth before cooking the peas. Another plus if you choose the bacon ends is they are usually very inexpensive and the extras also freeze well.

For a difference taste, add about one pound of well seasoned sausage with this black-eyed pea soup. Bulk sausage or link, hot or mild, Mexican, Cajun, Italian, Polish, German or whatever style appeals to you taste buds. First, lightly brown the sausage and then scoop it into a steamer basket. Add 1 cup water to the pressure cooker and place the steamer above the water level so the fat can drain away. The cooking time will be much less, about 4 minutes for loose or sliced sausage meats, to 6 minutes for whole links. Remove from heat and use the quick release method before opening the lid. Discard the cooking water and the fat. Add the precooked sausage meat and all the other ingredients used in the broth, along with the black-eyed peas and the collards.


Joy said...

So pleased to see a post from you! And YUM blackeyed peas!
Best Wishes and Happy New Year!

Discount coupons said...

Thanks, Thanks,Thanks...for these loveliest recipe...happy new year...

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Vickie, In your PIP section you have a picture of some great SS stacking pans with a bale type of handle. Are you allowed to say where you found those little gems?

ajam00 said...

I just purchased my first pressure cooker and was looking for a "pressure cooker blog". I so glad I found you! This recipe looks awesome! I can't wait to try it. It was very informative. I needed to know how to use a "ham bone"! I also appreciate knowing that I can use other smoked meats as well. My family is going to love this.

Joy said...

Just letting you know that there is a blog award for you over on my blog. Cheers

Anonymous said...

this is the best black eyed peas i've ever made. make corn bread in a preheated cast iron skillet and it is a feast.

biker.rn said...

Loved this recipe. I was going to make split pea soup with the ham bone I had - it was my husband's favorite soup. My husband was mad that I made this instead until he tasted it. Then he smiled and asked for seconds and said, "I think I have a new favorite soup".
BTW, I have both a stove top and electric pressure cooker and, although I know you prefer the stove top, I find myself using the electric more. Guess I'm spoiled by the push button convience. I Have the Fagor 3 in 1 and love it. Love your book and website.

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