|New Year's Day Blackeye Pea Soup|
It brings luck!
There is a tradition in Texas that if you eat Blackeye Pea Soup on New Year's Day, you'll have good luck all year. Once I got started, I got all superstitious about it and couldn't quit. I was never a big fan of blackeyed peas, but I enjoyed this soup most every New Year's Day. When I first came to La Ceiba, it was dry red beans or canned black beans or nothing, but over the years, the variety of available beans has grown and we can get several kinds of beans and lentils now, mostly of the Goya brand.
|When did a pound become 14 ounces?|
|Smoked pork chops|
|Goya and Doña Mari seasoning|
New Year's Day Blackeye Pea Soup
makes 5-6 quarts
14 oz. package of dried blackeye peas (about 2 cups)
4 tbsp. bacon fat (best) or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 leeks, sliced thin (optional)
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
4 stalks of celery, sliced
4 carrots, sliced (quartered lengthwise first if you are using fat Honduran carrots)
8 cups of chicken broth or water with chicken bouillon, or a mixture
2 tsp. dried thyme, divided use
3 tsp. Cajun seasoning, or to taste
1 tsp. peppercorns
2 smoked ham hocks or ham cut into bite sized chunks or smokey-type sausages or 2-3 smoked pork chops
2 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes, or fresh, chopped
1 large bell pepper or other mild chile, chopped
1/2 to 1 tsp. hot pepper flakes, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Sort through the dried peas and throw out any bad ones. Rinse the peas and soak overnight or at least 4-6 hours. I always throw out the floaters. Cover with water at least 2 inches above the peas as they will almost double in size after soaking.
Heat the bacon fat or oil in a large stock pot. Add onions and a sprinkling of salt and cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Add the leeks, garlic, and celery and continue cooking until tender. You can also add the carrots now but I usually only add a few and wait to add the rest so they still have some bite in the finished soup.
Stir in the broth, the soaked and rinsed peas, 1 tsp. thyme, Cajun seasoning, and peppercorns. Check the seasoning. It may not need more salt at all, especially if you used bouillon or will be using smoked meat. Add the meat if you are using it. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 40-45 minutes total, skimming off any foam that develops, until the peas are tender. If your peas are older, it could take longer. After about the first 10 minutes, add carrots. Add chiles during the last 5-10 minutes.
Pull out the ham hocks or smoked pork chops if you used them and allow them to cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones, cut it into chunks, and put the meat back into the soup. If you are using sausages, pull them out and slice into rings before adding back to the soup. Reheat the soup and add the last teaspoon of thyme and the pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste.
This soup is traditionally served with corn bread.
|Blackeye Pea Soup for New Year's Day|
For a vegetarian version, skip the bacon fat, use olive oil and vegetable broth, and skip the ham hocks or substitute some fake meat. I bet it will be almost as good.
I have an unofficial rule that as long as you eat this soup sometime in the first five days of the year, you'll still have good luck all year. ;-)
And I hope you all have a wonderful and lucky New Year whether you try my soup or not!