This Black Eyed Peas Soup with Pancetta (Italian bacon) is a fantastic Mediterranean beans soup. It’s usually World famous for New Year’s tradition of eating black eyed peas but mostly for me, it’s a rich winter comfort food:).
Black Eyed Peas: Peas or Beans?
Well, hope I’m not disappointing you but yes they are called peas, but they’re indeed beans. In my native country of Albania, we call beans of any variety ‘fasule’ or ‘groshë’. More specifically, we call black eyed peas ‘groshë qorre’ which is translated back to English like blind beans.
I prefer cooking dried beans because frozen or canned were not available while I was growing up. So now it’s a habit for me to cook with dry beans. Dried beans have the disadvantage that you need to soak them the night before, however they’re more budget friendly.
Whichever way you decide to consume them, they’re healthy because these black eyed peas are rich in fiber and protein.
Dutch Oven Or Pressure Cooker?
My favorite method of cooking this dish is with the dutch oven. But this soup can also be cooked in pressure cooker or slow cooker. Either way, it comes out fantastic and I’ll provide instructions for all three methods below.
Additional Tips & Notes
Here are some extra tips for a succesful recipe that might help on top of the recipe card below:). If you have any questions on substitutions or methods or any questions at all, let me know in comments. Thank you!
- Soak the black eyed peas overnight, it shortens cooking time especially in Dutch Oven. Soaking is less important if you use the pressure cooker.
- I love using fresh crushed tomatoes anytime I can. They add so much flavor to any dish, but they don’t have as much color as canned crushed tomatoes. You can use either fresh or canned crushed tomatoes, but if using fresh, I would add 1 tbsp of tomato paste to the soup to add some color.
- Pancetta – you can replace pancetta with ham, bacon or diced pork belly. Results will vary slightly but soup will still be amazing!!
- Add more red wine vinegar to your plate and drizzle some more olive oil!! This combo brings out the flavors of the soup. You can use lemon juice too.
Tips for Pressure Cooker & Slow Cooker
- Pressure Cooker – use the same steps as the recipe card to get started. Once all ingredients are combined, pressurize the pressure cooker on high (it can take anywhere from 5-8 minutes to do this depending on brand and size of pressure cooker). Let cook on high for about 15 minutes. Then use natural release to depressurize the pressure cooker. That can take another 10 minutes or so. Open the lid carefully and mix the soup well before serving. Garnish with parsley and add the red wine vinegar and olive oil over your soup bowl.
- Slow Cooker – use the same steps as the recipe card below to start the soup. Once everything is combined, set the slow cooker to 8 hours on low and let the soup cook. Check at the end and add time or adjust salt/pepper and flavor as needed. Add red wine vinegar (or lemon juice) to your soup bowl and garnish with parsley. A little drizzle of olive oil would be amazing as well:).
Black Eyed Peas Soup with Pancetta
- 1 Dutch Oven
- 2 cups black eyed peas
- 8 ozs pancetta
- 1 red onion
- 1-2 carrots
- 4 celery sticks
- 1 red bell pepper
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 0.5 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp dry thyme
- 0.5 tsp red pepper flakes optional, add more for spicy soup
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsps red wine vinegar
- 4 cups hot water
- Soak dry black eyed peas in water overnight. Rinse and drain on a colander when ready to cook.
- Dice carrots, onion and celery and set them aside. Peel and mince the garlic cloves. Dice red bell pepper too. Wash and drain the parsley. Usually I divide a quarter of the parsley bunch for garnishing at the end.
- Heat Dutch Oven for a minute or so. Add olive oil then add pancetta. Cook while stirring for few minutes.
- Add onion and garlic and cook until both are translucent and aromatic. Keep stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to avoid anything sticking to the bottom of the Dutch Oven.
- Add carrots, celery and red pepper. Continue stirring occasionally so all vegetables cook and soften and flavors mix together.
- Finally add drained black eyed peas and crushed tomatoes. Add all the seasonings: oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, black pepper, bay leaf, parsley and black pepper. As per salt, you can add it right at this point or when soup has finished cooking.
- Add 4 cups of water (I like to boil water in a kettle before adding so to shorten cooking time).
- Mix everything, lower heat to medium and cover Dutch Oven with a lid. Let cook for about 45 minutes. Check occasionally. Then lower heat to low and let cook for another 15 minutes.
- Add red wine vinegar and garnish with fresh parsley right before serving. Also, you can add some more fragrant olive oil to your individual soup bowl too. Enjoy:)
- Leftovers: you can store them in refrigerator for few days. Also, you can freeze this soup in an airtight container.
- You can use fresh lemon juice instead or red wine vinegar.
- My family back in Albania loved to serve a winter salad with this soup, which usually involved pickled green tomatoes or cabbage etc. Salad have olive oil and red wine vinegar, sometimes they’d scoop the olive oil/vinegar combo from the salad plate and drizzle some of that over the soup bowl. It’s really amazing, if you like that flavor combination. I know not everyone is a fan, but those that love it swear by it!
Pancetta is cured pork belly meat, it’s cured with salt and spices. Bacon is also cured pork product (sometimes pork belly, sometimes loin) but besides being cured, it is also smoked and the process involves nitrites. While they’re similar cuts of pork meat (bacon served sliced while pancetta usually diced), pancetta is healthier than bacon because it has lower sodium and doesn’t go through the smoking process (so no nitrites). Pancetta is more expensive though.
It’s interesting how many countries use Black Eyed Peas to usher in the New Year. Many people believe that eating black eyed peas at the beginning of the year, will bring lots of good luck and wealth.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please save it on your Pinterest winter or soup boards. Let me know in comments if you have any questions!! Feel free to tag me in social media with pictures of your renditions of this recipe. Thank you:).
Other Beans & Soups Recipes
If you love beans and soups, here are some more recipes you can check out. Thank you:).
- Navy Beans Soup with Beef Shanks
- Red Kidney Beans Soup
- Pinto Beans Soup
- Rice and Black Beans (Gallo Pinto)
- Mediterranean Lentil Soup
- Red Lentil Soup