Fennel-Scented Black-eyed Peas & Wild Greens (Φασόλια Μαυρομάτικα με Χόρτα και Μάραθο)
Black-eyed peas paired with wild greens are a classic Greek combination. Served in a zesty broth, and seasoned with bulb fennel and fennel seed, black-eyed peas and greens make a great soup for fighting off winter cold. For soup, use the larger amount of liquid called for in the recipe. In Greece, however, black-eyed peas are made with the smaller amount of water and served with most of it cooked off; this version is also delicious. If you like spicy fare, use the larger amounts of Aleppo and black peppers in the recipe; for less highly seasoned food, use the smaller amounts or leave out Aleppo pepper entirely. If using spinach, Swiss chard, or other tender greens, add 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time rather than when you add water.
2 cups (1 pound) black-eyed peas
3 cups diced yellow onion, 1/4” dice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced carrots, 1/4” dice
1 cup diced celery, leaves included, 1/4” dice
1 cup diced leeks, white and light green parts only, 1/4” dice
1 cup diced fennel bulb, 1/4” dice
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1-2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/2-1 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
2 tsp. fennel, crushed
1-2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. fine sea salt or 2 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
6-10 cups water
3 bay leaves
1 pound cleaned mixed greens (wild greens, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, escarole), tough stems removed and greens cut into 1/4” strips
Spread out black-eyed peas on a tray and inspect carefully, removing any pebbles, debris, or damaged peas. Put peas in a large pot, and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring water to a boil, and cook peas for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let peas soak in hot water while you dice vegetables.
When vegetables are ready, drain and rinse peas. Rinse out and dry pot and return it to burner.
Sauté onions in olive oil, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, until they soften and start to turn golden. Add carrots, celery, leeks, fennel, garlic, Aleppo pepper, crushed fennel, black pepper, and salt, and sauté for two minutes. Stir in tomato paste until it’s evenly distributed in vegetables. Stir in water, bay leaves, and greens (unless using spinach, Swiss chard, or other tender greens). Bring water to a boil, turn down heat, and simmer for 45 minutes (add spinach, Swiss chard, or other tender greens after simmering for 30 minutes), or until black-eyed peas are done and flavors have blended. Taste and add salt or freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese on the side for sprinkling over soup, or slices of feta cheese, Roasted Kalamata Olives, and crusty bread.