As I write this, we’ve actually had three “cold fronts” so far this season — none have been more than a blip, more windy than actually cold, though the humidity has been marginally diminished. Not so much that I didn’t absolutely need a flat iron to tame my wavy hair, but you know, my makeup didn’t actually melt off my face — so that’s positive. I’ve given up waiting for the weather to cooperate before I make the warm homey dishes I’ve been craving — and I figure that there are at least some of you who live where the mercury has actually dipped below 70° and would enjoy a hearty bowl of these Yellow Peas with Smoked Sausage.
I hesitate to call this “soup” — I mean, it could be, but really this thick, savory potage is more like a pot of hearty legumes, than a thin, slurp-it-from-the spoon soup. I mean, you can certainly add more liquid and make it more soup-y, but I wanted something thick and stick-to-your-ribs good that could stand up to the bold nature of the smoked sausage.
A ham bone, or shank is a must when you’re making a pot of beans. It adds flavor and collagen and gives the soup body. Simmering for a few hours allows the bone to release is goodness, and can be discarded after the beans are tender. (Of course, if there’s meat on the bone, be sure to pick it off to add back to the pot later).
I pureed a portion of the beans before adding them back to the pot to give a thick, creamy mouth feel.
Chopped kale adds more fiber and chew. I prefer the way that kale stands up to a simmering heat over spinach – which wilts on contact.
As for the smoked sausage — get the best you can. If you have a butcher that makes his own — buy it. I have found an exceptional smoked sausage at Costco (Kiolbassa) — and its my go-to unless I can get an artisanal variety. I like to serve this with a few shakes of hot sauce – Crystal is my preferred brand — it’s vinegary with a nice heat, unless I can get some of my grandfather’s homemade “piment-sauce” – that’s a whole new level of “Oh-Ma-Gawd”!
Yellow Peas with Smoked Sausage
- 1 pound dried whole yellow peas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1 leek pale green parts only, cleaned, sliced vertically and cut into half moons
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 3 carrots peeled and sliced
- 1 leftover ham bone or ham hock
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 cups water or more
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound smoked sausage such as kielbasa, cut into 1-2" chunks
- 2 cups kale tough stems removed, chopped
- fresh parsley chopped for garnish
- hot sauce to taste
- Sort through the peas, removing any stones or foreign particles. Set aside.
- In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the onions, leeks, celery and carrots, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until vegetables become tender.
- Add the peas, ham bone and bay leaves and stir in the water. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until peas are soft and starting to split (1-2 hours).
- Remove the pot from heat. Remove the ham bone to cool and discard the bay leaves. Ladle about 2 cups of peas into the bowl of a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth and add the pea puree back to the pot.
- Pick any meat from the ham bone and add it back to the pot. Stir in the minced garlic and season the peas with salt and pepper to taste. Add the kale to the pot and cook, covered, over medium heat until kale is wilted, about 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile heat a skillet over medium high heat and spray with a little vegetable spray. Add the sausage and cook until browned and crusty.
- To serve, ladle the peas into a shallow bowl, top with the smoked sausage and parsley. Serve with hot sauce on the side (I like Crystal brand).
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