New Year’s Capucijner Purple Podded Peas

No black eyed peas for us New Year’s Day. This larder has capucijners. Capucijner (pronounced cap-you-sigh-ner according to the Fedco catalogue) peas are one of the richest and most complex soup peas we have cooked with. We’ve been saving seeds that we think we purchased from Johnny’s Seeds about 20 years ago. We’re not sure because they don’t have them in their catalogue any more but this Dutch heirloom purple podded pea (pisum satisvum) is obtainable from several sources under various aliases such as Blue Podded, Dutch Grey, Blauwschokkers and Pois A Cross Violette. Legend has it that this pea was named after the Capuchin Monks who developed it during the 1500’s. Apparently the shape of the pea along with the color – an olive darkening to brown – looked like the cowl of the robes that the Monks wore at that time. (Cappuccino coffee is also derived from Capuchin but we won’t go there!)

Here’s a picture of this past year’s peas (lighter color) and the darker version (the older the seeds get the darker they get) from the harvest of a year ago:

When cooked, these peas stay whole and form their own gravy. They make a great meatless soup because they have a stand-alone flavor. Of course the usual onions, garlic, salt & pepper are de rigueur for all my soup pots. The rest of the ingredients depend on what’s on hand in the refrigerator or freezer. Hot peppers and fresh herbs such as cilantro are always nice additions along with carrots, celery, squash and other soup vegetables. (This time I used onions, garlic, one dried hot pepper poked with a fork, 1 cup chopped butternut squash, a handful of chopped cilantro, pinch of sage leaves, 1 tsp. salt, 20 grinds of pepper & 1 T. Liquid Aminos.)

Capucijner peas can take a long time to soften when cooking the long slow method (overnight soaking and simmering all day). I’ve dug out my pressure cooker for a faster version. Here’s the method: Cover about 2 cups dried peas with water by about 2 inches over the top of the peas. Then pressure cook at 15 pounds for about 20 minutes. Let the pressure drop down naturally. While this is happening prepare the rest of the ingredients. When you can safely remove the lid add everything else plus more water (if necessary) and pressure cook for another 20 minutes. Let pressure down naturally. Check the doneness of the peas and adjust the seasonings. (Please read directions for your own pressure cooker. If using split peas they can clog the vent.)

Start a new tradition. Dig out the pressure cooker and rattle those pots and pans, it’s capucijner pea soup for dinner tonight!

6 Responses to “New Year’s Capucijner Purple Podded Peas”

  1. Here’s an authentic recipe from my mother. You soak the peas overnight and then cook then slowly all day, as you said. About halfway through cooking, you put in some curry powder and salt. When you have done that, start the onions. Slice several onions and fry then very slowly, caramelizing them. They shrink up a lot. Also, fry up some bacon. Serve the capucijners with the onions and crumpled-up bacon on top. This is one of my favorite dishes.

  2. Judy says:

    Thanks for the new idea, Mara. You don’t see too many recipes for capucijiners, at least here in the US, so it is much appreciated!

  3. Sietske van Schaik says:

    I miss eating capucijners (kah-pu-sigh-ner is closer, by the way), they’re impossible to find in stores in the US. I too grew up eating them with onions and bacon (or well, spek, which is more like salt pork, but bacon works just fine). Traditionally, you serve them with the Dutch version of molasses (the Dutch make sugar out of beets, not sugar cane). It’s never been my thing, honestly. I’m a reasonably skilled gardener, and I am just this year starting to find the joys of heirloom seeds. I hope to find some seeds, so I may once again eat these wonderful peas.

  4. Noel says:

    Search Capucijner pea or blue or purple podded pea to find online North American sources. They are out there. I got my original seeds from Johnny’s, but they don’t sell them anymore. They are very easy to save once you have grown them.

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  5. Ken Greene says:

    We have them, grow them, save seeds from them, sell seed for them, and love them!

  6. Noel says:

    Ken Greene is a founder of Hudson Valley Seed Library – http://www.seedlibrary.org – Ken says re: Capucijner Peas, “They’ll be in our full 2014 heirloom seed catalog, which is available for non-members as well, which comes out in November 2013.” Check out their site!