A Taste of Africa: Liberian Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Sun, Mar 20, 2016 @ 03:07 PM

Getting to know Africa includes experiencing the vastly different - and yummy - expressions of each culture through food.

Black-eyed Peas are a big deal in West Africa! They show up in a wide variety of soups and stews.  This particular recipe is very tasty and you can vary the vegetables to change it up a bit.  You can make this recipe "thick or thin"! Add more vegetables and less liquid and it becomes more stew-like.

This recipe is technically vegetarian, although we admit we often substitute chicken broth for the water.  Which makes it decidedly NOT vegetarian. Up to you!


 Source: Creative Commons, Labeled for Reuse

We love sharing our family recipes with you but please remember you can search online and find lots of variations on this dish and other terrific African recipes.  An online recipe site we use over and over again is The Congo CookbookMy East Africa Journal is also a great source for recipes.  

We just came across a terrific culinary resource - afrolems.com - A food blog for Nigerian, African and Interational recipes.  Visit them - they have a really nice selection of recipes and the instructions are laid out in a really easy to understand manner. 

Recipes Around the World has the closest recipe to the way we make this dish (adapted from a Moosewood Restaurant daily special).

AllRecipes and Food.com are also good resources.  Just a simple web search will turn up a wide variety of recipes for you to try.


  • salt and ground black pepper (to your taste - we like rough ground black pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro OR (as we don't like cilantro) you can substitute the same amount of broad leaf parseley
  • 1 cup of dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 cloves of peeled garlic (or the same amount of already chopped garlic in oil)
  • 6 cups of water (or you can do what we do sometimes and substitute either all 6 cups with chicken or vegetable broth OR half  broth and half water - 3 cups each)
  • 3 cups of diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups of chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup of diced celery
  • 2 cups of whatever greens you like.  Collard greens, kale, chard or spinach are all good choices.
  • Okra is optional but we like to use it.  We put in about 1 to 1.5 cups of okra (sliced and either fresh or frozen)
  • Some Cayenne Pepper.  We leave the amount up to you! But, be careful.  We advise starting with just a pinch
  • 1 teaspoon of ground allspice (Some recipes call for more allspice but we prefer just a teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 Pepper.  The choice is up to you. We've used green, orange, red and yellow bell peppers.
  • 1 cup of frozen corn (Some recipes say this is optional but we like the pop of flavour AND colour)

Note: This recipe is very "elastic".  You can play around with it, choosing different combos of vegetables and changing the liquid - water, chicken or vegetable broth are all good. Again, more vegetables and greens - it turns out like a hearty stew.  Less - it is more like a soup.  We tend to make it more "stew like".


  1. Put the black-eyed peas, the garlic and 4 cups of either water or broth into a covered sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer this mixture until the peas are tender.  Should take around 45 - 50 minutes.
  2. Saute the onions and celery. We use a bit of olive oil.  Some recipes say just use a couple of tablespoons of water.
  3. When the onions are translucent, add the spices and continue to simmer until the spices are really fragrant.  Make sure to stir this quite a bit.  Don't let it stick or burn.
  4. Now, add the peppers and put a cover on the pan and let that cook for a few minutes (probably about 4 minutes).  The peppers should be cooked but not "squishy".
  5. Now add the corn and the other vegetables EXCEPT the greens with 2 cups of water or broth. (Whichever liquid you are using.)
  6. Cover the pan again and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the greens.  Simmer until the greens are just tender.
  7. Now go back to your black-eyed peas.  If you used garlic cloves, mash them up. If you used already chopped garlic it's already done for you!
  8. Add your black-eyed peas mixture to the other pan (of broth, vegetables and greens).  Stir in either the cilantro or parseley (whichever you are using).

Serve piping hot! We like to enjoy this with a nice bread or sometimes with home made biscuits. 

Enjoy!  And please let us know how you enjoy this recipe and any creative culinary modifications you make. 


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Mustafa Salemwalla

Written by Mustafa Salemwalla

Mustafa hails from Tanzania and spent 30 years getting to know the magnificent continent of Africa. Hence his passion for African art, sculpture, fashion and empowerment of artisans.

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