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Here's a burnt orange black-eyed pea soup recipe that first ran in 1979

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com
For this 2004 photo, Austinites Dottie Wilkinson and her husband, Joe, made a pot of their black-eyed pea soup, which has chili powder, sausage and ham hocks. It became a reader favorite in 1979 and is a frequent reader request around the New Year, even 40 years later. [Statesman file photo]

Here's a burnt orange black-eyed pea soup recipe with a story sweet enough for the Sugar Bowl.

In 1979, the Statesman published Dottie Wilkinson's black-eyed pea soup recipe, which she and her husband, Joe, would make when they watched Longhorn football games. It was notably filled with sausage and was slightly orange in color, thanks to chili powder.

Helen Corbitt might have the most famous black-eyed pea recipe in Texas, but Wilkinson's might be a close second, thanks to the popularity of that recipe.

In subsequent years, subsequent food writers would republish the Wilkinson recipe, often at the request of readers who misplaced their clipped versions.

I still get those emails. This is a good example of one of them:

Dear Addie:

Our home was destroyed in the Bastrop wildfires, and I lost my recipes! One of my favorites this time of year was a recipe printed in the Statesman for a Black Eyed Pea Soup. I made it every New Year’s Day. It was contributed by an older couple and it had sausage in it. I think they talked about serving it when watching UT games.

— Sally Keinarth, Bastrop

Or another:

Almost ten years ago the recipe “Blackeyed Pea Soup” was in the paper and I have lost my copy. Is there anyway you would still have this recipe and could send it to me.

Thank you,

Patricia D.

After nearly 40 years, countless cooks in the Austin area are still making this specific black-eyed pea soup, and I couldn't be happier to share it this year. We even have photos of the Wilkinsons with their soup from 2004, when my predecessor, Kitty Crider, sent former Statesman photographer Kelly West to take the couple's picture in their home.

It's an honor to share their story again, especially this year. Both Joe and Dottie died in 2017; 89-year-old Joe, a Navy veteran from Baton Rouge, died on Sept. 11, and Dottie, his wife of 43 years and maker of this great soup, on Dec. 9.

Dottie was born and raised in Caldwell and worked for many years as an executive assistant to the state securities commissioner, according to her obituary.

"She had a heart of gold and was always there to mend a broken wing or heart."

And a really good black-eyed pea soup.

RELATED: This spicy black-eyed pea curry will kick off the new year with a twist

New Year’s Black Eyed Pea Soup

This particular black-eyed pea soup recipe has been a hit with readers for decades now. After longtime Statesman food writer Kitty Crider last printed it in 2004, I've had countless readers ask me to republish the recipe. Crider originally got the recipe from Dottie and Joe Wilkinson in 1979, and the chili powder gives the soup an orange tone. Modern cooks might alter the method slightly in order to saute the mirepoix or prepare this in an Instant Pot, but the basic recipe gives you an idea of how Dottie made it all those years. If you don't have ham hocks or a ham bone, you'll have to improvise with bacon, chopped ham or more sausage.

— Addie Broyles

3 cups dried black-eyed peas

Ham bone with meat or ham hocks

3 cups minced celery

3 cups minced onion

3 cups minced carrots

2 pounds smoked sausage, diced

2 tablespoons chili powder

Place peas and ham in 3 quarts water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until peas are soft, about two hours. (No need to soak peas.) Discard bone, leaving bits of ham in soup. Add celery, onion and carrots and cook another hour. Add smoked sausage and simmer 30 minutes. Add chili powder. If needed, add more water, salt or black pepper. Serve with cornbread. Makes about a gallon.

— Dottie and Joe Wilkinson