Soulful simplicity. It doesn’t take much of a story line to sum up what this Kale, Black-eyes and Pork Jowl Soup is all about. If stewing down a pot of black-eyes is just too basic, then infuse it with garden-fresh kale, the soul-food flavors of smoky pork jowl, and intense dark chicken stock–the essential ingredients for this hearty, one-pot soup.
And finding the perfect kale with a bright and bitter balance is key. As a city dweller, I am blessed to have an urban gardener next door. My neighbor Rachel Spoon and her husband Richard grow a variety of herbs, collards, and a lush green kale that is the cornerstone of this soup. Store-bought kale pales in comparison to the sharp flavor and deep earthiness of these leaves. And I am lucky to have a generous neighbor who shares.
This Kale, Black-eyes and Pork Jowl Soup is a bowlful of warmth to take the chill off the last gasp of winter air as South Louisiana heads into spring. Laid-back casualness and down-home comfort are characteristics of life along the bayou, and once you’ve adjusted your rhythm to the waltz of Cajun life (and it won’t take long), you clearly understand what it feels like to be home.
The brilliance of the cuisine of my Acadiana is that it weaves traditional South Louisiana flavors into the simplicity of Deep South comfort food. By itself, Acadiana’s rich culinary culture stands on its on, but when blended with soulful Southern food it is as complex and evolved as most any cuisine on the planet.
Nothing represents my roots more than this Southern recipe for Kale, Black-eyes and Pork Jowl Soup, and with spoon in hand, my head bent over my bowl, I dive in. This is glorious soup, and I only come up for air.
- 3 strips thick-cut smoked pork jowl bacon, diced
- 1 cup diced yellow onions
- 1 cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 8 cups dark chicken stock (see the recipe here)
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (16-ounce) package dried black-eyed peas
- 1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a heavy pot with lid over medium-high heat, add the pork jowl and sauté. Once the meat begins to brown and the fat is rendered, add the onions, celery, bell peppers, and carrots. Continue to stir until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped tomatoes, and continue stirring the ingredients for another 3 minutes.
- Add the stock along with the smoked hock and bay leaves. Stir the black-eyes into the pot and add the kale. Bring the pot to a boil and then quickly reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour.
- Lift the lid, taste the liquid and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and bones of the hock.
- Serve in large bowls along with hot cornbread.
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