Most of you probably just read the title of this recipe and giggled. Yes, cowpea sounds a lot like cow pie. In fact, cow pee makes it seem even more funny. So if you haven’t heard of a cowpea before, let me tell you a little about it. But seriously, you can stop giggling now. Cowpeas are meaty little legumes that come in long pods. Once you pull the string off, you’ll see the tightly packed peas pop out of the pod. They are sometimes classified as a black-eyed pea, but you can also get purple-eyed ones, they can be green, white or dark in color and they are hearty little nuggets to cook.
When you can get them fresh, you are good to go once they are out of the pod. If you get them dried, then you need to soak them in water overnight for about 8 hours and then rinse them a few times before you throw them in the pot.
Cowpeas are common in a lot of African recipes and provide excellent protein in many soups and rice dishes. These “beans” are also used in a lot of southern recipes in the USA. I even found a great recipe online for chow chow salsa that included canned black-eyed peas, but would be awesome with fresh cowpeas instead.
I thought that split pea soup sounded great to make this week– fresh cowpeas are readily available at my local farmers market right now and if I make it now and freeze it, it will make a great meal later this fall when the weather cools off a bit. I decided not to go the traditional route and cook the soup with a ham hock, but to keep it vegetarian instead. If you’d like to, you can add diced cooked ham or turkey sausage after you puree the soup and then heat it for an additional hour to warm the meat. Either way, the soup is filling and satisfying and an easy meal when served with a crusty bread.
Kudos to you for trying something new. Cowpeas are a nice variation, especially if your family already likes peas and beans. Plus, if you can get them fresh, it’s fun to pull the string and unleash the pea from the cow. Enjoy!
2 c. fresh cowpeas
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 c. water
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped
Put all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Using a hand blender, puree soup in the crock pot. If desired, add 1/2 lb. diced cooked ham or turkey sausage to the pot and heat for one additional hour on low.