This quick and easy vegetarian stew is loaded with healthy southern staples like black eyed peas and sweet potatoes. It's ready in just over 30 minutes and perfect for dinner with a side of cornbread!
When I originally shared this recipe back in 2018 I had just moved back to Georgia and was relishing in all of the summer produce.
I like to eat it during summer but it is probably more of a fall/winter stew. In Georgia, most of these ingredients are available in both seasons!
This is a sweet potato AND black-eyed pea stew, but you can definitely use chickpeas or white beans if black-eyed peas aren't your thing.
We're also using kale, peppers, and smoked paprika in this hearty, flavorful, and nutrient-packed soup.
- Dietary features: vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, oil-free optional
- Flavorful: Inspired by Southern flavors and seasonal produce
- Quick & easy: just chop, sauté and simmer
- Filling enough to be a main dish!
- Black-eyed peas are a Southern staple. Their earthy flavor pairs well with the sweetness of sweet potato. I like to use my Instant Pot black eyed peas for this recipe, but frozen or canned black eyed peas also work.
- Sweet potato: Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes like Garnet and Jewel varieties are the best option. These have a more orange/red skin. Japanese or white sweet potato won't have the same flavor.
- Smoked paprika adds a lot of smokiness and depth to the broth. It's one of my favorite vegetarian pantry staples. Chipotle chili powder should work if you can't find smoked paprika.
- Kale adds a pop of green, plant-based iron, and texture to the stew. Collard greens are another great option and are a bit more of a traditional Southern green. Spinach is also a good option.
How to make
Pro tip: Most of the active time for this recipe is spent prepping the veggies. You can prep the veggies when you have extra time (2-3 days in advance!) so that it's quicker to make this soup during the week.
- Sauté veggies: Heat a Dutch oven or large stock pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in oil. Add the onion, pepper and celery and sauté until softened, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add aromatics: Add the garlic, jalapeno and dried thyme and sauté for about a minute more, until fragrant.
- Add all remaining ingredients. Bring up to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a rapid simmer. Cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the lid, turn the heat off and add in thinly sliced kale. The heat of the soup will wilt the kale quickly. Continue to simmer the soup over medium-low if you prefer less texture to your kale.
Sweet potato cooking tips
I recommend peeling the sweet potatoes for the most uniform texture. But you can leave the skins on if you prefer!
The size of your sweet potato determines how long the soup needs to simmer. I aim for 1 inch pieces which take 15-20 minutes. Half-inch pieces are a good option if you want the sweet potato to be a more subtle component of the stew.
The sweet potatoes are ready when fork-tender. This means that a fork can easily be inserted into the sweet potato without much give.
Different bean options
There are plenty of other options if you're not a big fan of the earthy flavor of black-eyed peas. Chickpeas and white beans work well, as do navy beans.
I usually use 1 can of beans which amounts of ~1.5 cups. Feel free to double the beans for a higher protein meal.
You can serve this over white or brown rice for a heartier meal.
For best quality, keep refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Let the soup cool to room temperature before transferring to a closable container.
Yes! Let the soup thaw to room temp before transferring to a container to freeze. Keep frozen for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium/medium-low heat.
You can technically use white potatoes in place of sweet potatoes but I think the flavors work best with sweet potatoes. If you're looking for a more traditional potato soup you might like my vegan potato soup.
Use a non-stick Dutch oven or pot. Sauté the veggies in 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable broth, replenishing as needed. You can tell you need more broth if the veggies start to cook too quickly or burn.
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Sweet Potato and Black Eyed Pea Stew (Vegan)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion finely diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper
- 2 stalks celery diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small jalapeño diced
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced into 1" pieces, see note #1
- 1 and ½ cups black eyed peas see note #2
- 1 can (15 ounces) petite diced tomatoes with juices
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 cups chopped kale loosely packed
- Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil. To the hot oil add diced onions, bell pepper and celery. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté 6-8 minutes, until the softened and golden.
- Add the garlic, jalapeño and thyme and sauté for 1 more minute, until aromatic.
- Add in the remaining ingredients: diced sweet potato, black-eyed peas, diced tomatoes with juice, vegetable broth, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduced to a simmer over medium-low. Cover and simmer the soup until the sweet potatoes are softened, about 15-20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped kale. The heat of the soup will wilt them in 1-2 minutes. Taste for salt and spices. Enjoy!
- Sweet potato: Choose orange-fleshed sweet potatoes with red skins, not white or purple sweet potatoes.
- Black-eyed peas: Add frozen or canned black eyed peas directly to the pot; they don't need to be heated up in advance. You can also use these Instant Pot Vegan Black Eyed Peas. One can usually has ~1.5 cups black eyed peas.
- Kale: Spinach and collard greens also work.
- Leftovers: Keep refrigerated for 3-4 days in a closed container. Reheat individual servings in a microwave or on the stove over medium/medium-low heat.
- Freezing: You can freeze this soup for up to 3 months. Let cool to room temp before freezing. It will need to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- In the photos the soup is topped with sliced okra. I used my roasted okra recipe for this.
Author's note: This recipe was originally shared August 2018. I updated it July 2021 with new photos, a video and improved instructions and tips. The recipe remains the same with some small adjustments for quality.