1lbblack-eyed peas, rinsed and picked through for stones
1large smoked ham hock
1/2teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh chives for serving(optional)
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.Add the black-eyed peas, ham hock, chicken stock, bay leaves and spices and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 1/2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the peas and ham hock are very tender.
Remove the ham hock and pick the meat off the bones, tearing it into small pieces. Discard the bones and return the meat to the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to a brief boil and serve hot, garnished with the fresh chopped chives.