Guest Blog – Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

Well hello friends!  Since I am traveling back from beautiful Michigan today, I have a special guest!  This last week while on vacation, I have had some memorable experiences that I will truly cherish.  Stay tuned for my next post, I share about my family’s apple barn, and all the wonderful memories.  There may have been some apple cider slushies today……OH MY YUM…..but now time to focus and enjoy some warm soup!

I remember when I first started enjoying John’s lovely posts, I was immediately in awe of his photography.  One thing I love about drooling reading food blogs, the photography.  I have learned so much in the last few years, and continue to grow each day.

Not only is Kitchen Riffs photography stunning, every recipe is unique and delicious.  Since I am new to mixology, and understanding how to properly mix drinks.  I loved his Summer cocktail series, each drink post I learned something new.  I love learning something new EVERYDAY!

So snuggle up, and enjoy a wonderful post that makes you think of Fall all the way to last spoonful!

Hi, I’m John at Kitchen Riffs.  I want to thank Terra for asking me to write a guest post for Café Terra. She writes a terrific blog, and I’m honored that she wants me to contribute. One of the mottos of her blog is “All Animals Welcome.” Well, she certainly proved that when she invited me over!

Terra travels a lot, so I wanted to write about a dish that she could freeze, and then easily prepare as a quick meal when she came home. With crisp fall weather coming up in the northern hemisphere, what could be better than a hearty soup? This one takes practically no time to reheat, and is really a meal in itself. Add a salad and some wine (don’t forget the always popular “crusty” bread!) and you have a feast.

I hope you — and Terra — like it.

Recipe: Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

Black-eyed peas and cabbage both combine well with ham, so we’re preparing this soup with a quick ham stock made from ham shanks (making it this way takes less time than the traditional ham-bone method). If ham doesn’t appeal, you could easily skip this part and instead substitute poultry, beef, or vegetable stock.

Black-eyed peas don’t require soaking (unlike most beans and legumes). They cook reasonably quickly and are already plenty tender. They’ll cook in an hour and a half or so (maybe a bit longer if they’re very old). That gives you just enough time to simmer them with the ham shanks and make a nice broth.

Depending on how thick you make this soup (i.e., how much water you add), this recipe makes 4 to 5 quarts — which is quite a bit. But leftovers freeze well, and you get several future meals from it.

This dish requires about 1½ hours total; active prep time is 20 to 30 minutes.


  • 1 – 2 smoked ham shanks or hocks (about a pound; a little more or less is fine)
  • ~12 cups water
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional; see Notes)
  • 1 medium onion (red adds nice color, but any kind will do)
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 – 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or thinly sliced
  • 1 – 1½ pounds cabbage
  • 1 – 1½ pounds potatoes (more or less; about the same quantity as the cabbage)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or neutral cooking coil
  • Additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional; if you like spicy, you might want to double)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons ham base (very optional; see Notes)


  1. Rinse ham shanks or hocks and put in a large stock pot or Dutch oven (one that holds at least 6 quarts). Add 12 cups water.
  2. Place pot on high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. While the water is heating, pick over black-eyed peas to remove any dirt or stones. Rinse and add to the pot with the optional 1 teaspoon salt (see Notes).
  4. When water comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and skim any scum that forms. Simmer for 1 hour.
  5. While the stock simmers, peel onion and mince into ½-inch dice. Wash and peel the carrots, and cut into small dice, half-rounds, or rounds (whichever shape you prefer). Peel garlic and mince fine. Clean and core the cabbage; cut cabbage into thin strips (½ inch or less) or shred. Scrub, peel, and cut potatoes into dice of ½ inch; cover with cold water so they don’t discolor.
  6. At the hour mark, check the black-eyed peas to see whether they’re getting tender. If they’re not, cook another few minutes. If they are almost tender (they should be), heat a skillet on medium until it’s hot.
  7. When hot, add the oil to the skillet. When the oil is heated (it’ll take just seconds; you’ll see the oil shimmer or ripple), add the minced onion, carrots, and garlic; stir and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until the onion is translucent (5 to 8 minutes).
  8. Once the onion is translucent, add the thyme and optional red pepper flakes, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the mixture to the pot.
  9. Fish out the ham shank and set aside to cool for a few minutes, and add the cabbage. Drain the potatoes and add them as well. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
  10. Right now is the time to taste the stock and adjust seasoning; and add more water if necessary to achieve the consistency you prefer (I usually need to add another 2 cups or so). If the flavor of the stock isn’t as strong as you’d like, this would be the point where you could add a little ham base (see Notes).
  11. Once the ham shank is cool enough to handle (5 minutes), bone it and cut meat into small dice (you may want to discard the fat). Add the boned meat to the pot. Taste again and adjust seasoning.
  12. If you want a less chunky, more homogenized texture to your soup, this would be a good time to use a stick blender to puree it (see Note).
  13. When the timer goes off, check to see whether the black-eyed peas are done. If they are (they should be), the soup is ready to serve. If not, cook a few more minutes until they are done to your taste.



  • The ham shank should give your broth a nice ham flavor. But if you want to up the flavor quotient, in Step 10 you could add a tablespoon or two of ham base (commercially prepared ham stock that’s been reduced to a paste). I usually buy the “Better than Bouillon” brand, which many supermarkets carry. But other brands also have good flavor and work well.
  • If you want a particularly flavorful broth, you can simmer the ham shank with the water for half an hour before you add the black-eyed peas. You could also add a peeled onion that’s been cut in half, and several cloves of peeled garlic to help flavor the stock. (Fish out the onion halves when you remove the ham shank in Step 9.)
  • I don’t think celery adds much to this soup, but if you have some on hand and crave its flavor, by all means dice some up and add it to the onions and carrots in Step 7.
  • I suggest adding salt in Step 3; its purpose is to help season the black-eyed peas. Some people don’t add salt to dried legumes until they’re nearly cooked because they think it makes them tough and they’ll take longer to cook. If you’re of that camp — or just don’t want too much added salt — you can taste the stock after it’s cooked for an hour (Step 6), and add some salt then if you think necessary.
  • Although most of the cooking on this dish takes place unattended, you do need to check on the pot from time to time. So this is a good recipe to make on a day when you’re around the house — perhaps on a weekend.
  • If you use a stick blender to puree your soup in Step 12, use one with a metal shaft. Plastics shafts can crack (ask me how I know!).
  • As noted, this soup freezes quite well. You can take this from the freezer, put it in a saucepan with a bit of water, and be eating soup in about 20 minutes or so. When reheating, you’ll want to watch the pot a bit after the first 5 minutes so the soup doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan. Just stir it from time to time to prevent this.
  • If you want a garnish for the soup, chopped parsley or croutons would be nice.

Thank You, Terra!

It’s great being a new member of your menagerie! This is the first guest post I’ve done and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

For a long period of my working life, I was often on the road for week-long trips — first by car for several years, then for more than a decade by air. And no matter how satisfying your work, that kind of travel really is physically wearing. Whenever I got home, cooking was the last thing I wanted to do — even though I’d be starved for a home cooked meal! I’d have loved having this soup waiting for me in the freezer. I hope you will, too.

Thank you so so much John!!!  I had no idea I did not need to soak black eyed peas, there is my thing I learned today!  This soup really does get me excited for cooler weather, AND really does sound fantastic!

What is your favorite soup on a cool day?

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  • Oh, this is cold night comfort soup at it's best! I love that it's loaded with big chunks of veggies instead of the usual tiny dice you find in many vegetable soups. I can almost taste the smoky ham flavor the hocks and base give it, and the black-eyed peas and cabbage are a nice addition!
  • Oops..I meant a 'nice twist' instead of addition lol AND, great first guest post, John! By the way..I want an apple cider slushie!!!
  • diabeticFoodie
    I'm always looking for new recipes using black eyed peas. This looks perfect for a cool fall day!
  • kitchenriffs
    Hi Terra, thanks so much for asking me to do this guest post! It was really a nice experience. Some people do like to soak their black-eyed peas, arguing that their texture will be a bit better and they'll be less likely to split when they're cooked. And if I was cooking a dish that was largely black-eyed peas I'd probably soak too. But for soup, I find none of these arguments really hold water. ;-) So I just cook them as I make the stock with the ham hocks - it's easier that way. Thank again for asking me to write this!
  • I love soups as the weather starts to cool off. Great guest post!
  • justonecookbook
    Smoked ham? Nice! Until this day I've never had black-eyed peas... I've seen some recipes from food blogs but never cooked them or had them before. I've been curious about this recipe and using it soup sounds very nice. Have a safe travel Terra, and great guest post John!
  • Karen (Back Road Journal)
    Nice guest post John. I eat black eyed peas every New Years day for good luck. Your soup sounds really good. I'm always happy to find a new blog that I didn't now about. Especially when I hear about apples and cider. Since I have 300 apple trees, I think we will have a lot in common.
    • Hi Karen, Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! Wow, 300 apple trees, that would be a dream! It is wonderful to meet you, I look forward to stopping by your site! Have a wonderful weekend:-) Take care, Terra
  • What a beautiful soup and lovely first guest post by John. I only eat black eyed peas on New Years day - how silly of me. I'd better make this soup soon before it gets too hot down here.
  • claudia
    Thihs soup is perfect for the MN winter!
    • Thank you so much for stopping by! It really would be perfect during a cool day:-) Take care, Terra
  • Bam’s Kitchen
    Nice Guest post John! You post area always so informative and you give the information out that everyone really wants to know why they are cooking, those super helpful hints. From the ingredient list I can just imagine how flavorful this broth is and I want to try this upon my return. Take care, BAM
    • Thank you so much for stopping by!!! I think this soup really does sound so flavorful, and delicious:-) Enjoy, Take care, Terra
  • Great recipe ... Totally reminds me of the hoppin john we have on new years day :-)
    • I have always said I will make Hoppin' John, and still have not. I need to maybe this year finally:-) Thank you so much for stopping by! Take care, Terra
  • Angie Tan
    A fantastic bean soup packed with flavours!
  • Lana @ Never Enough Thyme
    A wonderful soup with so many southern influences in the ingredients. Perfect for cool fall days.
  • mjskit
    You had me at "black-eyed peas"! Have never cooked them with cabbage but it makes all of the sense in the world since they both go great with ham hocks. Love this recipe and a great one for the fall and even the freezing winter! Great post for your first guest post! Terra, hope you're having a great trip!
  • [email protected]
    John...what a beautiful soup and you know I am a new fan of your blog, your photography and amazing recipes. I really enjoyed this guest post and thank you so much for introducing me to Terra's lovely blog as well. I look forward to visiting you both again and again! : )
    • Hi Anne, I am so happy to meet you, it is always lovely to meet more wonderful food bloggers! I look forward to visiting your site:-) Thank you so much for stopping by, Take care, Terra
  • How lovely to have John guest post for you Terra! What a lovely looking soup. It would be so good for you and coming into Fall, there's nothing better than a comforting bowl of hot soup xx
  • ChgoJohn
    This is another fantastic soup, John, not to mention a great blog to explore. This was about as successful a guest post as one could hope for.
    • Thank you so much for stopping by! John's soup really does fantastic! Thank you for the kind words, Take care, Terra
  • Suzanne
    What a wonderful comforting soup great for the up coming cold nights of Autumn and Winter. I love all the veggies in this soup and the traditional Southern black eyed pea.
  • John, its a pleasure to meet you! Your soup sounds delicious and I like the idea of a quick soup but a hearty one as well. Sometimes in winter we get so busy with work and all that I dont get the time to cook something and then of course my husband comes at weird hours home after dropping some friends to the airport, so your recipe will come handy one of these days. ;)
  • John, its a pleasure to meet you! Your soup sounds delicious and I like the idea of a quick soup but a hearty one as well. Sometimes in winter we get so busy with work and all that I dont get the time to cook something and then of course my husband comes at weird hours home after dropping some friends to the airport, so your recipe will come handy one of these days. ;)
  • John, its a pleasure to meet you! Your soup sounds delicious and I like the idea of a quick soup but a hearty one as well. Sometimes in winter we get so busy with work and all that I dont get the time to cook something and then of course my husband comes at weird hours home after dropping some friends to the airport, so your recipe will come handy one of these days. ;)
  • John, its a pleasure to meet you! Your soup sounds delicious and I like the idea of a quick soup but a hearty one as well. Sometimes in winter we get so busy with work and all that I dont get the time to cook something and then of course my husband comes at weird hours home after dropping some friends to the airport, so your recipe will come handy one of these days. ;)
  • kitchenriffs
    Thanks to everyone for all the lovely things you've said. I really appreciate them - thanks again.
  • John, what an excellent soup...I love the depth of flavor from the ham shanks...I have a bone down in my freezer waiting for this recipe :) Terra, hope you have a safe trip home!
  • The Café Sucré Farine
    Very yummy looking soup, love all the fresh veggies and flavors going on here. Very lovely photos, nice to meet you John!
  • Soni/Soni’s food for thought
    Love the flavors in this soup!Even I didn't know that black eyed peas didn't require any soaking :)Lovely guest post with beautiful pics!!
  • What a delicious looking soup for this time of year! :)
  • Kim Bee
    Terra thanks for inviting John to the blog. I adore his food and his photography as well. He is such an inspiration. John I adore this soup, and you know I normally am not a soup gal. This is stunning and you've changed my view on soups today. I love that you use better than bouillon. I had never heard of it until my sis sent me some a couple of years ago. Now I'm addicted to them. They are such high quality.