We all know the rhyme: "Beans, beans the magical fruit, The more you eat, the more you toot"
Because when you properly prepare beans - soak 'em, and let 'em cook nice and slow - something magical happens. The gas naturally releases from the bean. The phytonutrients break down. And you are left with an easily digestible, soft, delicious bean that will fill your tummy and nourish your body, without any unpleasant side effects. I often add a piece of kombu (kelp) when soaking and cooking the beans, as it also helps to soften skins and increase digestibility. I also think it adds a nice, earthy richness to the bean cooking liquid and to the finished soup. If you don't have kombu, no worries, your beans will still be delicious and digestible - I just think they are better with it.
One of my favorite beans are black eyed peas. I love their earthy flavor, small size, and soft texture. I love using them in soups and stews. This time around, I added turnips and turnip greens, and a hefty amount of garlic and onion. Finished off with thyme and savory, this soup is simple and lovely. I made this for lunch tomorrow and for the freezer (my stash of freezer items has dwindled!). But couldn't resist trying a few spoonfuls tonight after unplugging the slow cooker. The flavor was very very good; rich, earthy, and full. I'm expecting it to be even better after sitting overnight. I can't wait until lunch tomorrow!
But truly the best thing about this soup is how easy it is to prepare - it took very little effort, just a little pre-planning. You can do other things at home, run errands, take a nap, go out with friends, whatever, and know that a happy healthy meal is cooking while you go on with your life. Plus, it makes your house smell great. I put all the stuff in the crock pot before work this morning, was gone all day, went to dinner with some girlfriends, and came home to find my apartment smelling AMAZING and the stew nearly done. Awesome. Just plan ahead so your beans can soak, prepare your ingredients, and let the slow cooker do the rest!
Black Eyed Pea and Turnip Stew, Slow-Cooker Style
- 16 oz (2 c) black eyed peas, dry
- 1 5 inch x 2 inch piece kombu (optional)
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
- 1 tsp dried savory, crushed
- 6 c hot water
- 2 c turnips, peeled and diced (2 medium)
- 1 c turnip greens, thinly sliced in a chiffonade (can substitute chard, kale, collards, or mustard greens)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2-4 T Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
- Sort dry beans and pick out any funky ones. Place beans and kombu in 4-6 cups water.
- Soak overnight or for at least 6-8 hours.
- Once beans are soaked, dump off water and rinse well, saving kombu, and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a pan, and saute the onions and garlic until softened. Add the thyme and stir.
- Transfer onions and garlic to slow cooker, then add beans, kombu, and water.
- Cover and cook on low around 8 hours, until beans are almost tender, or however long you need to leave them cooking (mine cooked for about 10 hours because I was gone at work!).
- If beans are too watery, spoon off some of the cooking liquid. But don't throw it away! Save it and use in another soup or to flavor grain or rice dishes. It is full of good nutrition, and will be wonderfully rich.
- Stir stew to break up softened kombu. Remove kombu if desired, but I prefer to leave it in for extra flavor and nutrition. Add diced turnips, and cook again until turnips are tender (about 2 hours on low, or maybe 30-45 minutes on high?).
- Add turnip greens, and parsley, and salt and let cook for 10 more minutes right before serving.