Sunday, January 2, 2011

Black Eyed Pea Soup

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I go to my parent's house for New Year's Day, watch bowl games with the family and mom makes Texas Caviar and Black Eyed Pea Soup. Every year, for as long as I can remember, I turn my nose up and do not even try either one of the two foods mentioned. Why? I never cared for black eyed peas. I would force down a spoonful of peas for luck and prosperity, whatever the tradition is, but aside from that I stayed far away from them.

As the luck of the black eyed pea would have it, this year, on 1-1-11, I decided to dip that Frito chip into mom's Texas Caviar and I enjoyed it, a lot. Dad decided to create a ginormous crock pot full of chili, there was cheese dip and other snackables so we didn't get around to making the black eyed pea soup this year. I asked mom for her recipe so that I could try to create and enjoy it this new year's weekend.

Mom initially got this recipe from The Little Mushroom Cookbook, a wonderful little restaurant that used to be in the Design District of Dallas. I attempted to make my mom's version but I don't know how well I followed instructions - my soup tasted great but had the consistency of Mexican bean dip, which made me second guess myself. I ran into a few problems with ingredients which could have led to this. Here is my mom's version with my personal additions/commentary for a tasty recipe for black eyed pea soup.

Grocery List:
1 can black eyed peas (grocery store didn't have a can of black eyed peas, but they had a bag of them in the produce section. The Little Mushroom recipe tells you to cook the peas the way the can instructs. Well, my bag was not very helpful with that, so I just stuck them in a pot with water and boiled to make them squishier)
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 tbsp. light butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 beef boullion cube (grocery store was out, so I got what was supposed to be a substitute though I don't think it worked how it was supposed to. Without the proper cube, I think I lacked the additional liquid needed, so I ended up using about 1 1/2 cups of beef stock to help thin out and mix the ingredients)
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. chili powder (I added this for my personal taste preference)
1 tsp. cumin (my addition)
Sharp cheddar cheese
Tortilla or frito chips for garnish

As mentioned above, I started by boiling my peas in a small pot. While I was trying to get those to soften, I heated up my dutch oven and threw in the butter, followed by 1/2 cup of minced onion. Once the onion was translucent, I added the garlic until fragrant.

Mom's recipe told me to add the beans at this time, however, the beans were still not very soft. I went ahead and added the diced tomatoes/green chili mix that was the Whole Foods version of Rotel.

After boiling the beans for about 20 minutes and the clock reading 7:40 PM, I lost patience and drained the beans of excess water, then added them to the dutch oven to join their ingredient friends. Next, I added the beef bouillon substitute from a jar that I don't think worked out well for me.

(squeeeeel! I can take good close up pictures now!!!)

At this time, I whipped out my immersion blender as my mom instructed and I started mashing it all up. It was at this time I decided beef stock was needed and I added 1/2 a cup. That helped in my hand-blender process but needed more, so I added another 1/2 cup. All in all, I think 1 1/2 cup was used.

post-blend round 1

Last, I saw that mom added cheese to it, I overlooked that in my instructions - oops. So, I added a handful of cheddar cheese, let it do it's thing on top then blended it in once it had melted a bit. This is when I added my last 1/2 cup of beef stock, chili powder and cumin. We taste-tested and to us, it was perfect.

post-blend round 2

Ladle into bowls and you are all set! Served with cornbread and a simple salad of mixed greens, red onion, cucumber and tomatoes to round out the meal.

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