It’s tradition, y’all. And in the South we’re all about tradition. Black-eyed peas and greens can be found in some form or another on just about every Southern table on New Year’s Day ensuring wealth and good luck.
Legend has it that the tradition dates back to the Civil War era (what doesn’t in the South?) when Union soldiers stripped the fields bare except for peas and greens which they left thinking they were animal feed. That was a win-win for those poor Southerners.
What we really know is the idea of eating peas and greens dates back much further than the Civil War. According to the Talmud, which was written circa 500 AD, it was customary to eat peas and greens at the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. (AmericanFood.com)
Either way, what matters to me is that we carry on the tradition.
You may recall, I prefer purple hull peas over black-eyed peas any day. That’s what I usually sneak into my New Year’s Day good luck plate. Or rather, I usually sneak a few black-eyes into my purple hulls like I did with Black-Eyed Peas and Turnip Green Soup and my Hoppin’ John with Cavatappi (coming soon).
But this time, I had a pound of dried black-eyes left from making Gifts From the Kitchen Soup Mixes, so I decided to go in full throttle and make this absolutely delicious Lucky Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Greens Soup.
Now, if you’re not familiar with collard greens, let me encourage you to give them a try. Yes, you can substitute turnip greens or kale or even spinach, but I’m telling ya’ get prepared to lick your lips when you prepare collards the way I’m gonna’ show you.
Be sure to have a very large skillet, braiser or Dutch oven available. Just like spinach and kale, collards cook down significantly. You’ll start out with what seems to be a mountain of greens, ending up with about 1/3 of the starting pan. Because I like the added texture, I prefer to leave some of the tender stems rather than trimming them totally out. That’s up to you obviously.
Alternatively, you can finely chop the collards and throw them into the slow cooker during the last 1 hour of cooking.
Some people splash in a touch of vinegar, either apple cider or balsamicb to offset some of the bitterness of the greens. Hubs and I like to splash on some vinegary pepper sauce instead.
You can use all thick-cut Petit Jean Hickory Smoked Bacon™ in the soup, but I usually like a combination of pork cuts. This time I even rendered some hog jowl bacon along with the regular belly bacon.
Hog jowl bacon comes from the cheek of the pig rather than the belly and usually has a higher degree of fat per slice. I rarely find it in the market except around New Year’s Day so I pick up extra packages for the freezer.
Y’all fat is flavor!
I also cubed up some Petit Jean Smoked Sausage™ instead of ham because, well, that’s what I had on hand and wanted that extra spiciness. Either way you go, it’ll be mouth-watering.
On the question of soaking your peas. I don’t. It’s just not needed when cooking with the slow cooker. Really, it’s just not needed when cooking peas on the stovetop either. Just rinse the peas, discarding any that are blemished, and you’re good to go. The peas will hold their shape so much better without that long stretch in the water that is usually recommended.
If you like, serve the soup over a spoonful of Riceland Long-Grain White Rice™ or Riceland Gold Perfected Rice™. A skillet of cornbread would be a nice addition as well.
This is not a sponsored post.