Nov 30, 2011

Black-Eyed Pea and Barley Stew

I had a bit of barley and a few black-eyed peas in the pantry that I didn’t want to go to waste. So I picked up some kale and carrots, and put together this hearty, warming stew.

When I made up this recipe on the fly, I thought it would be good, but kind of plain, similar to Hoppin’ John. I didn’t anticipate how amazing the chewy texture of the barley was with the creamy black-eyed peas. It’s really a killer combination, and it makes me wonder why I don’t eat barley much more often. I used Umbrian barley, and I think it was especially good. But any pearled barley will be fine here.

Black-eyed peas and barley are nutritious on their own, but the addition of kale makes this dish into a nutritional superstar. You really can’t pack much more fiber and vitamins into one bowl.

I can’t think of anything more satisfying and comforting for a chilly night. Or lunch at your desk, for that matter.

Black-Eyed Pea, Kale and Barley Stew

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped (about 4 cups, packed)
1 cup pearled barley
1 cup dried black eyed peas, rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
14-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably small dice (I used Bionaturae)
4 cups water
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot. Sauté the garlic, onion and carrot for 10 minutes. Add the kale and sauté another 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the black-eyed peas and barley are both tender, about 1 hour.  Season with salt to taste (it may not be necessary if your stock was salted.)

Serves 4

See more recipes: Entrees, Soups and stews, Vegan


  • This looks delicious, Cathy! I love how hearty it is with the barley. :)

  • I still haven’t started making soups this year :) Bangalore is getting cold enough for it though… Have never really used barley but it looks delicious!

  • It really does sound delicious!

  • michelle

    Toasting the barley before adding it in might be nice……….

  • Robert W. Smiley, Ph.D.

    Have you tried making this in a slow cooker (crock pot) and if so, do you have any suggestions or changes to the recipe?

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Hi Dr. Smiley (such a great name!) Unfortunately I have no actual experience with slow cookers. However, from what I’ve read, you should probably cook it for 7 hours on low heat. The liquid should be reduced somewhat as there is little evaporation, but it’s hard to say how much. I would probably start by reducing the water and stock by 1 cup each. The worst that can happen is that you’ll have a soup instead of a thick stew. It will still be delicious!

  • This looks so hearty and warm! Yum!

  • Love barley! Just recieved my first case of veggie stock from the Co-op. perfect timing! It’s cold and windy here today too. Yummy!

  • ann chase

    I think this is delicious. Luckily it makes a lot so there was enough for lunch and another dinner. This is a very filling meal and just perfect for a cold day. I added some hot sauce to make it a little spicy. Keep up the great recipes Cathy.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Ann, you’re the best. Keep on testing my recipes for me!

  • Holy Cow! I cant believe I found you! I have been vegetarian with my daughter for 4 years and have wasted so much money on cookbooks that disappoint. FINALLY someone who understands a former meat lover/eaters dilemma on taste!!!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Christa, this comment means SO much to me. Thank you!

  • Elise


    I just tried making this and the beans never softened??? I’ve cooked it for hours now, any suggestions?

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    I’ve had that problem with other beans, and it’s due to the beans being old. It happens, and it’s very frustrating. I generally find that there’s no need to soak black eyed peas, and they cook up fine. You must have gotten a really old batch.

  • Phil

    My wife SWORE she would not care for a vegetarian stew. Well, I made this and it was such a hit, it has become a regular on the menu. I also cut in some sliced radish (I prefer daikon) – it adds something extraordinary. Especially good on a dreary raining/drizzling day.

  • Thanks, Phil. When do you add the daikon? I haven’t cooked with it much. Sounds like aninteresting idea!

  • Matt

    Just found this on Yummly. It’s absolutely terrific!

  • Chelle

    Made this last night and it was wonderful – my mother loved it as well (she even took a picture of the bowl I dished out for her before she ate it). It is one of those dishes that looks almost as good as it tastes – although that is hard because it is so hearty and delicious!

    Thanks so much for the recipe, it is going into my rotation of soups from now on – and I cannot wait to try your others.

  • Carol Kelly

    Love your recipes.
    Any possibility you could add a Pinterest option?

  • Jessie

    Wanted to do something different with our New Year’s black eye peas and came across this recipe. DELICIOUS!

  • D

    This is ridiculous. There is no way this takes an hour. Really obnoxious instructions. I am now sitting here for two and a half hours with everything soggy except for the black eyed peas.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Sorry it didn’t work for you. I have made it many times and the recipe is fine. The only thing I can think of is that your black eyed peas are old

  • Chelle

    Do you think it would be a problem to substitute spinach for the kale? I have quite a bunch that seems to have accumulated in the refrigerator and, if it wouldn’t unbalance the rest of the recipe to bad, this would be a great way to use it up and make a wonderful meal.

  • Of course, spinach would be fine! Let me know how it turns out.

  • Chelle

    Update! I made the stew, with the spinach, yesterday. It takes a bit more prep work time then than kale to get it de-stemmed and chopped (which I don’t particularly mind – had a good audiobook I was listening to and it made preparing veggies rather soothing).

    As for taste – I think I still prefer the kale (I’ve made this recipe of yours multiple times now to know the difference) but I wouldn’t hesitate in the future to subsitute spinach, or other leafy greens I have an overabundance of, in this wonderful stew.

    One thing I would note is the spinach seemed to soften quicker then the kale when I stirred it in with the saute mixture. I think in the future I might experiment with adding it later in the cooking process.

  • Its a great feature to be able to print these recipes off.

  • […] made this one exactly as the recipe indicates, except, we did add a mixture of Italian herbs. The stew is very easy to make. It was so […]

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