The New Year is upon us and for me that means having black-eyed peas and greens on the menu in various forms. As a reader you may know that my background is of Southern heritage. All though I no longer live below the Mason-Dixon Line, I still take part in many of the wonderful foods and traditions. If you are not familiar with the eating of peas and greens at the start of the New Year, the peas, once swollen in size, represent prosperity and the greens represent good fortune.
The dried black-eyed peas can be soaked overnight or quick soaked if you are pressed for time. Once soaked, I cook the beans with a few veggies like garlic, onion, celery, and carrots, a ham hock for good flavor, and the collard greens. Unlike the original recipe that adds the greens at the end of the cooking time, I like to cook the greens for a longer period of time with the beans to remove the bitter flavor and for a tender bite. Opposite goes for adding the diced ham. I use the ham hock to flavor the broth and then add the ham right before serving along with any meat from the hock. That way the ham stays moist and tender, but the soup still has that deep ham flavor.
This is a great recipe for those of you who enjoy your black-eyed peas and greens, but without all the work of a full menu of Hoppin' John, Southern Cooked Greens, and Glazed Ham (that comes Sunday).
Although we are ending the year in Chicago without any accumulated snow (is that possible?!), the air is chilly and a body-warming bowl of goodness with a dash or two or three of hot sauce is still a welcome thought. And what could be better than ending the year with a bowl full of prosperity and good fortune? The great taste is just a bonus!
Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup
2 cups black-eyed peas, picked of stones and rinsed
2 Tablespoons of canola oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large rib celery, finely minced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 smoked ham hock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 bunch (about 3/4 pound) collard greens, ribs removed and thinly sliced
1/2 pound ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
Tabasco or hot sauce
Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover by 3 inches with cold water. Set aside for 8 hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and celery and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, peas, broth, ham hock, thyme, bay leaves, and collards and bring to a boil, skimming any foam on the surface. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until the peas and vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves and ham hock. Pull any meat from the hock and chop into bite-size pieces and return to the pot. For a slightly thicker and creamier soup, smash a few peas against the side of the pot. Add the diced ham and heat just until warmed through. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with Tabasco and corn bread on the side. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from wholefoodsmarket.com