When I asked Jay last night how we should start our 31 Days of Soup he politely listened to my 25 ideas and then pointed out, "You don't have anything with black eyed peas? That’s what we are supposed to eat on New Year's Day..."
I had never heard this. I will blame it on being raised Californian and apparently divorced from the southern belief that this meal is considered good luck. A little research revealed the tradition to be Jewish, dating back to the year 500. Apparently the tradition was brought to the southern United States by Sephardic Jews who immigrated to Georgia starting in the 1730s. The practice was adopted by non-jews around the time of the civil war when Union Soldiers, destroying or taking all the "edible" food or crops, left alone the black-eyed peas thinking them only suitable for livestock.
Traditionally black-eyed peas are prepared with pork fat and served with collard greens. The peas symbolize prosperity while the green of the collards symbolize money. I want prosperity and money and am not one to question 1500 years of wisdom so to start 2010 out right...
Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Collard Greens
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
6 cups vegetable broth
Tabasco to taste
salt to taste
coarsely ground black pepper to taste
1 small bunch collard greens
4-5 oz cooked bacon (or soy bacon) chopped into small pieces
4 scallions, whites and half the greens, diced
Saute onions in olive oil for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add garlic and jalapeno and saute another few minutes to release the flavors. Add bell peppers and cook until soft. Add cooked black-eyed peas and 4-5 cups broth. Season to taste with Tabasco, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
While you wait, braise collards in remaining broth. Cook until the greens are soft but still bright green, maybe 3-4 minutes. Drain remaining liquid and season with salt, a pinch of sugar, and some Tabasco to taste. Serve soup with a dollop of collards and garnish with bacon and scallions.