Texas Black Eyed Pea Soup

After a big weekend of traveling, visiting friends, almost missing flights, sleeping very little and drinking way too much we returned home on Easter Sunday with little in the way of plans other than lazily sleeping the day away and preparing for the week ahead.

I don’t know if it was the idea of such a simple, pleasant sunday at home or the feeling of spring and holiday celebration in the air (or perhaps having spent the last several days in Texas, the place from which all my minimal southern cooking heritage derives) but I had the urge to make black eyed peas. I missed my opportunity at the new year so this week’s renewal and rebirth will have to suffice.

Having Texas on the brain pushed this soup a little farther south of the border than I had expected but the green chilies really added great flavor and between the spicy chorizo and jalepeno topping I didn’t even have to add hot sauce or chili flakes, which is rare for me. If you’re looking for that heat and don’t get it from the sausage, however, definitely add it in elsewhere.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 14oz can large white beans (cannelini or great northern)
2 14oz cans black eyed peas
1 4oz can fire roasted green chilies
1/2-3/4lb spicy pork chorizo sausage. i used spanish, but i’ve heard portugese is also good if you can get your hands on it.
2 cups chicken stock
a sprig or two of fresh rosemary (or a bit of dry if that’s all you’ve got)
two hand fulls fresh basil leaves
1 jalapeno, sliced and quickly pan fried

In a large soup pot saute the onion  in a couple tablespoons olive oil on medium heat about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and chorizo and saute another 10 minutes or until the sausage is just cooked. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Drain and rinse the can of white beans and using a potato masher mash the beans into a paste.  This is a bit easier if the beans are warm. You can add the beans to the pot along with the stock and cook for a few minutes but then they have to be strained out.  Alternatively you can pop them in a bowl and microwave them lightly just so they will mash willingly.
Add the stock, the mashed white beans, the two cans of drained black eyed peas and the green chilies to the pot.  Season again with salt and pepper, drop in the rosemary sprigs, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. I tend to pop the lid and take a look every 20 minutes or so, check for flavor and consistency.  I like a thicker soup, hence the bean mashing and reduced amount of liquid. For a thinner soup add an extra cup of stock or don’t mash any beans.
While the soup is doing its thang slice up the jalepeno and quickly pan fry the slices in some oil to crisp them up. Next time i will try flouring or breading them to make them a bit more substantial, but they were delish on their own as well.
5-10 minutes before serving, yank out the rosemary sprigs and toss in the basil leaves. when they’ve wilted to your liking check for salt and pepper one more time (of course) and you’re ready to serve!
Alternate serving suggestion: fry up a few extra basil leaves instead of the jalepeno to serve on top as a garnish. Fried basil leaves are crispy, beautiful and best of all, delicious!

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