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From my plate to yours,

Vegan Black Bean & Black-Eyed Pea Soup w/ Chipotle & Caramelized Leeks

Vegan Black Bean & Black-Eyed Pea Soup w/ Chipotle & Caramelized Leeks

Ahhh, bean soup. 

So simple, so cheap, so nourishing. And in this recipe, so delicious.

Those of you who follow along on my Instagram account may remember that my husband and I recently moved out of our beachside apartment in Oceanside, CA to come back to my hometown in Orange, CA and reside with my 2 lovely parents for a year while we (1) pay off the large student loan I acquired while getting my M.S. in Nutrition in Portland, OR in 2016, and (2) start a little savings fund for a home of our own one day. 

Since I was a tot, my family has always eaten dinner together. Mealtime is sacred. We don't light candles and get all romantic or anything, but with 2 hard-working, business-owning parents who worked weekends, this was really the only time we spent together as a unit. My step-dad would always have a large pot of something steaming when I got home from a late, cold water polo practice, and it was the absolute best way to end the day. Friends were always welcome, too -- so there could be anywhere from 6-10 people dining together in our warm, well-lit, loud, friendly home. 

A decade later, these family dinners are still just as special. Not as often with the entire gang, but quite frequently my sister, her husband and their two sweet girls will pop in, or my oldest brother and his band members or girlfriend, or my next eldest brother with his fiancé. On rare occasions, ALL of them and a few cousins passing through town will stay for dinner (we are from Italian descent after all, so large family gatherings may as well be our religion), and these are the nights that really make my heart full, and my spirit bright. After an evening of great food, even better company, and hours of talking over each other and laughing so hard your cheeks hurt, you better believe we fall asleep quite easily, and sleep good and hard. 

Most nights, however, it's just my husband, step-dad, mom, and me around the table together, and this is the first time since leaving the house at 18 years old that I've felt intimidated to make dinner.  Pleasing my easy-going, meat-eating, but veggie-loving husband has always been a breeze. But now the challenge is real. And I am always up for the task of creating plant-based meals so hearty and satisfying that they win over everyone at the table with delight. 

This is how I know my mom liked dinner -->  "I could eat this every night!"
This is my only indication my step-dad liked dinner --> "Very good, Leesa."
This is how I know my husband liked dinner --> "It almost tastes like there's meat in here."

And all three were quite pleased with this newest concoction of mine. It's a crowd-pleaser, and so nourishing to the soul on a cold night. We paired it with toasted naan for dipping, but any good quality crusty bread would do. We didn't get fancy with toppings, but I imagine that a little diced avocado, fresh cilantro, or good hot sauce would be nice here, too. 

This recipe is simple. Not a ton of seasonings and spices like I usually feature, but I like it as a base for hosting your own creativity. My husband just finished off the leftovers and added roasted, smashed fingerling potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts to his bowl. It was actually pretty good! So add what you see fit, and adjust seasonings based on your preference. But I'll continue to enjoy it just as is, simple, hearty, flavorful, and downright delicious. I hope you feel like a dinner guest at our table with this soup, and I hope your guests like it, too.  

Smoky Vegan Black Bean & Black Eyed Pea Soup.jpg

Serves 5-6 large bowls.
1 cup Dry black beans
1 cup Dry black-eyed peas
2 Tbs. Extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1/2 Medium-large yellow or white onion, diced
1 Large leek (or 2 small), washed clean of dirt and debris, and thinly sliced into 1/8'' rounds
2 Medium-large orange carrots, washed and diced, no need to peel unless the carrots are old
2 Medium-large stalks of celery, rinsed and diced
4 Cloves garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
2 Bay leaves
4 Cups Low-sodium veggie broth (or stock of choice)
4 Cups Filtered water, plus plenty more for soaking the beans
2-4 tsp. Chipotle paste, (or 1-2 canned or jarred chipotle peppers in adobo, diced) 
A few generous pinches of freshly ground black pepper and pink or white sea salt
6-7 Medium-large stalks of kale, leaves torn and stems discarded
1 Tbs. Apple cider vinegar

1. Add dry beans to a large glass bowl, and soak with plenty of filtered water overnight, up to 24 hours, switching out the water every 8 or so, if possible. The water should cover the beans by 1-2 inches.

2. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, and allow to heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and a pinch of sea salt, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the sliced leek, and continue to cook until everything is caramelized and lightly browned, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Toss in the diced carrot and celery, stir, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and allow to cook for 1 minute with the vegetables.

3. Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans, and add them to the pot with the bay leaves, broth, and water. Stir to combine, and cover the pot with a lid. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Simmer the soup on low for 30-45 minutes, until the beans are tender, but not mushy. This is quite possibly the most important part of this soup. Check the bean texture at 30 minutes by scooping one out and either rinsing it under cold water or blowing on it until it's cool enough to eat. If the bean is still a bit al dente, continue to cook and check every 5 minutes. The perfectly cooked bean is soft, yet still retains a bit of chew. I think this is where some of the "meatiness" comes in. 

4. Once the beans are cooked to your liking, remove and discard the bay leaves, and stir in 2 tsp. of the chipotle paste (or 1 diced chipotle pepper), and the salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Test the spice level of the soup by sampling just a spoonful of the broth, and add more chipotle paste by the tsp. (or 2nd diced chipotle pepper) for more heat / flavor. Adjust S&P to taste. 

5. Turn the heat off, stir in the torn kale leaves, and cover to steam for 3-5 minutes. Once you're ready to serve, stir in the apple cider vinegar, and serve each bowl with any desired toppings.

Avocado, smoked olive oil, or just a nice piece of crusty bread (or all three!) would be lovely here. We ate large bowls of this soup with toasted naan, and topped with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper, and it was just, dare I say -- perfect.

From my bowl to yours,

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