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  • Writer's picturemeghannbower

Brothy Black-Eyed Pea Soup

I am not a fan of black-eyed peas. I know that's not a great way to start off, but hear me out. I AM a fan of New Years Eve traditions, and in my family, we always ate black-eyed peas on New Years Day to bring us prosperity in the new year.

This superstition is grounded in the southern United States, but until I researched for this post, I had no idea WHY we do this. Its always just been something that we did.

Based on an article by Adrian Miller on Garden&Gun, the tradition actually comes from West Africa. Before the Europeans arrived, West Africans didn't really have a New Year's Day food tradition, but they commemorated auspicious days with special foods or preparing a special meal. Many religious deities in West African religious tradition had human attributes, like favorite foods, and black-eyed peas was usually among them. West Africans have long considered the black-eyed pea as a good luck charm that warded off the Evil Eye. Black-eyed peas are always on the list for special occasions such as the birth of a child (especially twins), a homecoming, or a funeral.

During the time of slavery, West Africans brought their food traditions and beliefs to the American South. Slave ships leaving West Africa were packed with black-eyed peas to feed the captives during their voyage across the Atlantic. Eventually, they were grown in plantation gardens and slaveholders began eating them on the regular.

No one knows for sure how the black-eyed peas on New Year's Day tradition got started, but another possibility is that Sephardic Jews from Syria who came to the South inspired others in their custom of eating black-eyed peas for good luck on Rosh Hashanah, their New Year's Day.

Before we get to the goods, I have to give credit to another blogger, EvergreenKitchen for the stellar broth in this recipe. It really does carry the whole dish (because it ain't the black-eyed peas, in my opinion).

I hope you enjoy, and that the new year brings you prosperity, love, and light!



  • 3 cups of dried Black-eyed peas, soaked in cool water overnight

  • 2 heads of garlic

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 shallots, whole

  • 7 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth

  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste

  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes

  • 1 tbsp. of Extra Virgin olive oil (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse the soaked beans in fresh water and drain. Trim the tops of the garlic heads down by about 1/2 an inch, or until the cloves are exposed.

Combine all ingredients in a large, oven-safe Dutch oven and cover with a lid. Pop in the oven and bake for 2 hours.

Remove from the oven and using a slotted spoon, fish out the garlic heads, bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Once the garlic heads cool a bit, squeeze the cooked garlic out of its skin and smash it up with a fork, or the back of the wooden spoon. Toss back into the pot with the beans and stir to dissolve the garlic into the sauce. Serve immediately with fresh lemon juice, fresh chopped parsley, or my personal favorite: hot sauce! Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.

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