think a long, cold and frozen day nursing a hangover and watching old movies while playing cards with the kids, right?– but since I love black-eyed peas and my folks were both raised in the deep south, I’m going with those little beauties this year. (For an interesting article on many New Year’s Day lucky food traditions, click here.)
Have my cookbook, Soups and Sides for Every Season?
If so, you might have made “Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Yellow Pepper Salsa.” I’m thinking you’ll like this one even better, as it’s all gussied up to include both chopped smoked ham AND crumbled country (breakfast) sausage, as well as a couple of big handfuls of healthy shredded cabbage. I like the first version lots, but am so much in love with this newest one–as you will be, too. Head to the store right away; they run out of black-eyed peas at this time of the year!
Why are Black Eyed Peas especially lucky for New Year’s Day?
Black eyed peas were considered to be animal food during the 19th century and so…
“The peas were not worthy of General Sherman’s Union troops. When Union soldiers raided the Confederates food supplies, legend says they took everything except the peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies, and survived the winter. Peas became symbolic of luck.”
From About Travel, by Amanda Galiano
It’s been a long, wonderful Advent and Christmas…
(even now it’s just the 5th Day of Christmas. St. Thomas Becket died on this day or if you sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” –which start with December 25 and go to Epiphany or Three Kings Day on January 6–, you’ll remember that today is 5 golden rings.)
..but it’s nearly time to move on to New Year’s, enjoying a big bowl of my Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Country Sausage and Cabbage. We can then finally begin a quiet week enjoying the tree lights until January 6 when decorations begin to come down. Wait! I have a dinner party to cook for on January 3. Perhaps not so quiet after all. I’ll keep you posted.
BLACK-EYED PEA SOUP WITH COUNTRY SAUSAGE AND CABBAGE, garnished with green peppers and scallions
Don’t have the ham hock or a ham bone? You can make this soup with just the country (breakfast) sausage or even some sliced kielbasa. If you have only a piece or two of bacon, chop and add it with the peas as they cook; the soup will be luscious. Short on time? Chop the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic all together in a food processor.
- 1 pound dry black-eyed peas, rinsed well and picked over–Soaked all night or quickly prepped by boiling for 2 minutes and letting sit for 1 hour*
- 8 cups chicken broth (can sub vegetable broth)
- 4 cups water (or more as needed to keep the soup brothy)
- 1 smoked ham hock or shank (can sub a regular ham bone, 1-2 cups chopped smoked ham or 2 smoked pork chops)
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- Handful fresh chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper–or to taste
- A few drops hot sauce –or to taste
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 pound country breakfast sausage, cooked through and drained (such as regular or hot Jimmy Dean’s, any turkey breakfast sausage, or make your own using one of my recipes)
- 1/2 large green pepper, minced (can instead use red pepper or a combination)
- 2 scallions–green onions (white and green parts), minced
- Add first 10 ingredients (black-eye peas – hot sauce) to a 10-quart heavy soup pot along with half of the onions, celery, carrot, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a healthy simmer and cook 30-40 minutes until peas are softening.
- Add remainder of onions, celery, carrot, and garlic to pot along with the cabbage and cooked breakfast sausage. Bring back to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook until all of the vegetables are tender–at least another 30 minutes. Everything should float freely in the broth; if it’s too thick, add more chicken/vegetable broth or water.
- Remove smoked ham hock or ham bone. Let cool briefly and carefully slice off all of the meat, discarding bones and gristle. Chop smoked meat and stir back into the soup. Let simmer 2 or 3 minutes, stirring. Taste and adjust seasonings, including hot sauce. Serve hot topped with minced green pepper and green onions for garnish. Pass hot sauce at table.
Cool completely and cover to store in refrigerator 3-4 days. Freeze at 0 degrees Fahrenheit in covered air-tight containers or freezer bags for 4-6 months.
*You can skip the soaking and or boiling/let sit for an hour if you cook the beans longer. Legend has it, however, that the soaking or boiling/let sit makes the beans cook more evening and also helps eliminate gas later on. (If you eat legumes several times a week, the gas it not an issue.)
Gilding that lily:
- Serve over a small scoop of white rice well-seasoned with butter, salt, and black pepper.
2. Serve with hot buttered cornbread.
- QUICKER: Brown your country breakfast sausage well (no pink and 165 degrees F when done) while the peas cook and it’ll be ready to add at the end when the peas are tender.
- ADDITIONS: If you like, you can add 2 tablespoons tomato paste to the broth as it cooks or even a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes. Want more vegetables? Consider adding 2 sliced leeks (white part only) or a chopped small fennel bulb.
- LIGHTER? Need a lighter or less caloric soup? Omit the country breakfast sausage and use only the leaner chopped ham. If you skip the meat altogether, the soup will be tasty, through you might want to use a bit more hot sauce or some other heat like crushed red pepper or half a minced jalapeño for seasoning.
- SLOW COOKER? No doubt a slow cooker would be fine with this soup. At altitude, bean soups are very difficult to get done, so I haven’t tried this. (We need to soak overnight and then boil the beans at least an hour or so on the stove before adding to a slow cooker.) If you’d like to, follow slow cooker instructions for a similar soup. Let me know how it turned out!
Wine: I’m consistent. I like a French, red Rhone with almost any bean soup and I feel just the same about this one, despite it’s being a black-eyed pea soup. Click here for more info: Côtes-du-Rhône.
Dessert: None of us needs dessert at this point in the season, but if there are leftover cookies or candies, serve them and get rid of them now. Otherwise you can scoop up some peppermint ice cream and drizzle on a little chocolate sauce, right?
Nutrition: Black-Eyed peas are actually a bean and so fit into the vegetable family. They are high in fiber, magnesium, and potassium, as well as being low in calories. They’ll stick with you, encourage digestion, and satisfy your heart and tummy. Did I mention how inexpensive they are? Check out the details here.
Sing a new song,