Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Black-Eyed Pea Soup



Black-eyed Pea Soup

Black-eyed peas are huge in the South, most notably eaten on New Years Day. 

The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.

Today, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the New Year has evolved into a number of variations and embellishments of the luck and prosperity themes that  include:

Served with greens (collards, mustard or turnip greens, kale), the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money.

Cornbread, often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.

It is said for the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.

Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.

Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving is another tradition practiced by some. When served, the person whose bowl contains the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year.

With it being New Years day, I’m sharing one with my favorite veggie, that being kale and black-eyed pea soup.  You decide if you want to eat 365 peas or put a coin in your soup bowl. 


Black-eyed Pea & Kale Soup with Lemon & Sage

6 slices of bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
5 cups chicken broth 
1 bay leaf
1/4  fresh sage leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried sage)
Salt & pepper to taste
4 cups kale, sliced into thin shreds (I used 1 cup frozen kale from my garden)
Juice of one lemon

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Cut up bacon into small pieces and fry until fully cooked.  Add the onions and saut√© for five minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the black-eyed peas, broth, bay leaf, sage, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so that the soup simmers, cover and cook for one hour. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the kale. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the kale turns bright green and begins to wilt a little. Stir in the lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning and serve.  Being a Southern dish, it does pair nicely with corn bread.

Variation:  You may add tomatoes to the soup if you want to have a healthy and wealthy New Year.  You may also add meat to it like ham, ground turkey or chicken to make it a complete meal with corn bread served on the side.

I make a lentil soup that is similar in some ways but I use Italian sausage in it.  It has the kale and chicken broth and is spicy because of the sausage.  I have blogged the recipe in the past.  If you are adding tomatoes, you could spice it up with any flavorful sausage and additional seasons to match the sausage of your choice.  How about chirico, Polish sausage, or any of your favorite nation's sausage.  Each nation seems to have their own.

Tomorrow is suppose to be terribly cold so thinking of Matzo ball soup.  It is suppose to be the cure all for all your ills.  All I know is I love it. 

Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Years.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  


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