Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Stew

December 29, 2017

Berbere spice.

If you’ve never heard of this spice, it’s likely you’ve never had Ethiopian food. I grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC, which has the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia. Suffice it to say, there are some really incredible Ethiopian restaurants, too. I frequented several of them.

Berbere spice has very unique flavor. It’s a little warm, a little sweet, and very spicy.

It reminds me of home.

A few months ago, a dear friend sent me a small jar of berbere spice and a recipe that this stew is based on. That same week at the farmer’s market, one of my favorite vendors had freshly shelled black eyed peas. It was fate.

The recipe you see here is a tweaked version of the original recipe my friend sent me. It’s a little greener and a little less spicy (I mean…I have kids and I frequently try to convince them to eat what I am eating, so less spicy is the way to go).  In just a few months it’s become a treasured staple of late-fall/early winter warmth for our bellies.

I like serving this soup over barley, but it also pairs well with brown rice.

Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Stew

Serves 4 people


2 cups dried black eyed peas (plus water to cook)

2 Tbs coconut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs ginger, minced

1 Tbs turmeric, minced

1 or 2 tsp berbere spice, depending on how mild or spicy you want it ***

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup veg broth

2 cups lacinato kale, torn into bite sized pieces

cilantro for garnish (optional, but delicious)


Cook your black-eyed peas by covering them with water, bringing to a boil, then simmering on low for about 40-45 minutes. Once done, drain and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Stir well to keep from burning. Cook together for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add in the berbere and the sun dried tomatoes. Stir well, cooking for about 2 minutes.

Add in the fresh tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and broth. Cook for 5-10 minutes, simmering on low. Add in the black-eyed peas. Simmer, covered for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the kale. Mix the kale in with the stew so that the heat starts to cook the kale, turning it bright green and softening the leaves. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add salt/pepper as needed.

Serve over barley with a little cilantro, which makes the flavors pop!

***and if you can’t find berbere spice, you can google it and make your own. Or you could replace it with curry, in a pinch if you add in some cinnamon and cloves. If there are Ethiopian or African markets in your town, try there first.

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