This recipe [from Congregation Or VeShalom Sisterhood, Atlanta, Georgia] is adapted from the sisterhood’s synagogue cookbook, The Sephardic Cooks. It is traditional to serve these peas with “pink rice,” Sephardic-style rice cooked with a bit of tomato sauce. Miriam Cohen, a longtime member of the Sephardic community in Montgomery, Alabama, told me, “You know, when I cook pink rice, my son says, ‘This is Jewish soul food!’ It is, you know.”

Note: Recipes in Marcie Cohen Ferris’s book Matzoh Ball Gumbo were compiled from a diverse mix of Jewish Southerners who have blended religion and region through home cooking.

This recipe was featured as part of both our Southern Seder menu and our Supercharge with Superfoods photo gallery.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings (4 cups)
  • Total: 55 mins
  • Active: 25 mins

Ingredients (9)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen black-eyed peas; if you use fresh peas, add more water if necessary
  • 1 1/4 cups water


  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the tomato starts to soften, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the black-eyed peas and water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the peas are tender, about 30 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, if necessary. Serve the peas hot or warm.

From MATZOH BALL GUMBO: CULINARY TALES OF THE JEWISH SOUTH by Marcie Cohen Ferris. Copyright © 2005 by Marcie Cohen Ferris. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.