Cut the bacon slices into 1-inch pieces and add to pot, stirring frequently until bacon is crispy.
Remove the bacon to drain on a paper towel (I usually put a paper bag under the paper towel for extra absorption), and pour off the bacon grease from the pot. (If using minced garlic, reserve about a tablespoon of the grease for sautéing the garlic, for about one minute until light golden brown).
Add to the pot the stock, black-eyed peas, bay leave, thyme, parsley, pepper and half of the cooked bacon pieces. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Cook for 1½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the peas are tender. If you need to add more liquid as you go, an additional cup or two of stock should do the trick.
Remove the bay leaves before serving. If you have a hand blender, you might want to give the soup a quick blend before serving, as I did.
Serve the soup with the reserved bacon and fresh chopped parsley sprinkled on top.
We also added a dollop of sour cream, just because.
You won’t need salt in this recipe because of the bacon