Wednesday Dinner: Black-eyed Pea, Ham, and Collard Green Soup

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As I write this, there is an remarkably awesome smell in my house. Chilling on my counter (literally and figuratively) are two quarts of leftovers awaiting a stay in the Cryovault in my basement.

Advertised as Hoppin’ John soup, the only resemblance it bares to the Southern classic are the base ingredients — pork, black-eyed peas and collards. Kalyn, of the eponymous Kalyn’s Kitchen blog, skipped the rice and turned this into a soup that requires slow cooking and deserves the benefit of day-ahead preparation to let flavors blend.

A couple of items to note here:2013-11-12 at 17-37-54

  1. 2013-11-12 at 17-54-55Collards may be a tough find, depending on your grocer. My Wegmans sells them only as part of their “Cleaned and Cut” brand, which is convenient for me as, after all, they are both cleaned and cut. Collards most commonly fall into that zone of ethnic foods that get space on a shelf, but may not find room in the produce section. Had I not found them at Wegmans, there was likely a trip to the Price Chopper in Western Lights or Nojaim Bros. on Syracuse’s Near West Side.
  2. My biggest concern here was salt. Between the ham and ham concentrate, I was worried that I might get a heavy hand when seasoning. Extra effort when tasting and seasoning saved me from oversalting here.
  3. 2013-11-12 at 17-58-08Speaking of Goya ham concentrate, this stuff is pretty rancid smelling. But, it’s bouillon so it just needs to taste good, right? Wegmans gets $1.99 for a box of eight packets. So, here’s my question: What the hell am I going to do with seven packets of concentrated ham dust? It looks like I’m making some split pea and ham soup this winter.

WHAT WORKED: Cooking it a day ahead. The bulk of the work here took place on the previous night. All I did before serving was reheat, add vinegar, and pulse with my immersion blender. It simmered on low for nearly three hours before I put it in my Olean Fridge (a.k.a. my back porch. Some call it a redneck refrigerator. I call it my Olean fridge as an homage to the rural city near my college. It’s a compliment, kinda.) for 18 or 19 hours.

WHAT DIDN’T: Not much went wrong here.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “This is really good. These greens don’t taste like spinach.”

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Oh yeah…

2013-11-12 at 17-44-27Black-eyed Pea, Ham, and Collard Green Soup
Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

  • 1 onion, chopped in fairly small pieces
  • 1 cup celery, chopped in fairly small pieces
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2-3 cups diced ham (cut off the ham rind and save)
  • 10 cups homemade chicken stock (NOTE FROM JARED: I used a blend of vegetable and chicken stocks)
  • 2 15 oz. cans Goya black-eyed peas
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 packet Goya ham concentrate
  • 2 cups fresh collard greens, chopped
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar to taste
  • kosher salt to taste

In a Dutch oven, saute onion and celery in olive oil until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add the ham and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

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Add 8 cups of stock, black eyed peas, dried thyme, and ham rinds (if available). Cook at a low simmer for an hour.

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Taste for flavor. Stir in more stock and ham base. Add the collard greens in batches, allowing them to wilt before adding more. Stir to coming and simmer two hours more.

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(NOTE FROM JARED: Everything up until this point can be done a day or two in advance, if you keep the soup refrigerated.) 

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Use an immersion blender, standalone blender, food processor or potato masher to puree half of the soup. (Pureeing thickens the soup, but you want a mixture of mashed and whole peas). Add red pepper flakes (if desired) and vinegar. Simmer 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

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