Black Eye Pea and Kale Soup

Black Eye Pea and Kale Soup

The black eye pea is one of the most common field peas used in soul food cooking.  This  beautiful legume’s texture and flavor matches well with all sorts of flavors and are easy to cook.  You can buy them dry, but like most legumes they are wonderful fresh or steamed.  Black eye peas are low in calories and high in fiber, protein, folate and potassium. 

Kale is one of those leafy greens that gets lots of well-deserved hype.  Like collards, kale is high in lutein, beta carotene, vitamins, and minerals and even has a good amount of iron.  Like collards, kale matches well with a little spice and fat, and has great versatility.  There are several varieties of kale – for this soup I really like to use the “Lacianto” variety because of its color and texture. 

This soup is a soul food rift on a traditional Provencal soup called "Soupe  au Pistou".  The “au pistou” part of this soup is a very southern French thing and involves serving the soup with a dollop of pesto. I use a parsley pesto instead of basil because I think it pairs better with this soup.  You can make the soup with Andouille sausage, or keep it vegan it some mushrooms and cayenne.  You can also make it thicker by adding some diced sweet potatoes.  However you decide to go, it will be a family favorite.

Soup Ingredients:

11 oz. package fresh steamed black eye peas 

               OR 1 1/2 cups soaked dry black eye peas

1 bunch kale, preferably Lacianto/Tuscan, chopped well

1/2 of a good, nitrate-free Andouille sausage (pork or turkey), diced

                OR 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms and ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 small cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, minced

1 tablespoon extra -virgin olive oil

4 whole, unpeeled roma tomatoes (3 for soup, 1 for the Pistou)

4 cups homemade unsalted or boxed low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, plus more water as needed

1 tablespoon unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar

1 cup diced sweet potatoes (optional)

Pinch of sea salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


1.        Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom large pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers.

2.       Add the Andouille sausage and sauté until slightly brown.  Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside.

3.       Add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft.  [If using mushrooms, add to the pot and sauté until soft and slightly brown at the edges, the sprinkle in the cayenne pepper.]

4.       Add the kale and sauté until wilted. Pour in the vinegar.  Add the peas and sausage. 

5.       Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer (low to medium-low) and drop in three of the tomatoes. Add water to cover the vegetables, if necessary.

6.       Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes remove the tomatoes, making sure to scoop up any of the tomato skin if it has started to peel.  Set tomatoes on a plate and let cool for 5 minutes.  Add the sweet potatoes if you are using them.  Return the cover to the pot and continue to simmer gently.

7.       Peel the skin off of the tomatoes. Discard the skin.   Mash or chop the tomatoes and return to the pot with their juices.  Make sure there is enough liquid to keep 'soupy'.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.

8.       Serve with a dollop of Pistou and crusty bread.

Parsley Pistou Ingredients:

I tablespoon crushed garlic

2 cups chopped, stemmed flat-leaf parsley

6 tablespoons fresh grated parmesano reggiano

¼ cup coarsely grated roma tomato

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of sea salt


1.       Place parsley, garlic, and cheese in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth OR, using a mortar and pestle, press and combine until smooth.

2.       Pour in the olive oil and tomatoes and stir gently to combine. Stir in the salt and serve.