This soup recipe is born out of the sagra dining experience for Fasulin de l’òc cun le cudeghe (black-eyed peas with pork skin) attended in November. It took me 4 months to finally make this at home, and the timing couldn’t have been better what with this freak cold snap that is presently putting a chill in our bones. My version isn’t as rich as the one at the sagra – it doesn’t smack of greasy residue that only the addition of lard and butter would achieve. Good news for the arteries, I should think, but there was no leaving out the cotenna or pork skin (photo below). You can buy these prepacked at the supermarket, cleaned and ready to be used in soups, stews and cassoeula, one of Lombardy’s most favorite of winter dishes.
Black-eyed pea soup with pork skin
makes 4 servings
3 ounces pork skin, cut into short ¼-inch strips
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 medium stalk celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Grated parmigiano to garnish
Briefly blanch the pork skin in boiling water. Drain and set aside.
If you have a food processor, the vegetables (still whole) can be chopped together at one go using the pulse option. In a large soup pot, saute the finely chopped vegetables in about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Add the tomato paste, beef broth, and pork skin. Bring all to a simmer, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, covered, until pork skin is soft, about 1½ hours.
Meanwhile, cook the black-eyed peas. Bring an ample pot of water to a boil, lightly season with salt and add the beans (drained) and bay leaf. When the water returns to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 40 minutes or until tender. Drain the peas, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
When the pork skin is done, add the drained black-eyed peas and the reserved liquid which has been whisked together with the flour. Stir until thickened slightly and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve garnished with grated parmigiano. Tastes even better when made the day before.