Easy Sausage, Kale, and Black-Eyed Pea Soup With Lemon and Rosemary Recipe

Extra-flavorful ingredients are the secret to this simple soup.

Close up view of a sausage and kale soup with peas.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Why It Works

  • Soaking the beans in salted water improves texture.
  • Adding rosemary and lemon zest in stages enhances the broth but keeps the flavor fresh.

I don't have much to say about this recipe, other than it's delicious and it's ridiculously simple to execute, which may mean this will be the shortest Food Lab post EVER. Fancy that!

The trick to this recipe is to start with a crazy flavorful ingredient—Italian sausage—add a few other crazy flavorful aromatics—garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest—then cook it all down with a couple of ingredients that just love sopping up flavor—dried beans and kale.

Ok, there are a few more tricks than that, like soaking the beans in salted water overnight in order to improve their texture (the salt weakens the structure of the beans' skins, which allows them to tenderize more effectively when simmering later on), or adding the rosemary and lemon zest in two stages: once at the beginning to flavor the broth, and once just before serving to give your soup a punch of flavor at the end. But really, it's simple. I swear.

Spooning up some sausage and kale soup.

Serious Eats /  J. Kenji López-Alt

The last key to good flavor here? Really, really good olive oil drizzled over the top at the end. Break out the fancy stuff. Now is the time.

January 2014

Recipe Facts



Active: 20 mins
Total: 0 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1/2 pound dried black eyed peas (see notes)

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

  • 12 ounces mild Italian sausage, removed from casing

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)

  • 2 large stalks celery, finely diced (about 1 cup)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided

  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest from 2 lemons, divided

  • 1 1/2 quarts homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 bunch kale, trimmed, washed, and roughly chopped (about 2 quarts)

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with 3 quarts of water. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt and set aside at room temperature overnight (see notes).

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or potato masher until starting to brown, about 8 minutes total. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, half of the rosemary, and half of the lemon zest and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken stock and bay leaves.

  3. Drain and rinse beans, then add to pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are fully softened, about 1 hour. Discard bay leaves.

  4. Transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Return to pot. Add kale and cook until tender, about 10 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately, drizzling with olive oil and sprinkling with remaining rosemary and lemon zest.


Canned beans can be used in place of dried. To use canned beans, drain and rinse 1 (28-ounce) can of black eyed peas. Skip step 1 and add beans to soup in step 3, simmering for 30 minutes instead of 1 hour. Serve as directed.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
662 Calories
32g Fat
59g Carbs
40g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 662
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 48mg 16%
Sodium 2022mg 88%
Total Carbohydrate 59g 21%
Dietary Fiber 13g 45%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 40g
Vitamin C 116mg 578%
Calcium 324mg 25%
Iron 10mg 53%
Potassium 1908mg 41%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)