December 30, 2015

New Year's Menu: black-eyed pea soup + sweet & smokey collard greens with bacon

My husband's all-time favorite food profile is soul food. I'm not quite sure where this deep love for soul food comes from; but he certainly has an on-going hankering for it! So lucky for him, New Year's Day is around the corner, and soul food is considered good luck and new beginnings! It's been said that slaves ate black-eyed peas on January 1 in 1863 to celebrate the Emancipation going into effect! "Good luck" and "new beginnings", see?! Don't you love that?!

Rather than just heating up a can or boiling beans in salted water, I wanted to soup it up a little bit. We love a roux-based, thick, soup-y dish. And this one did the trick! So good, y'all. And we slap slow-cooked, sauteed collard greens and hoe cakes on the side! Mmm. Mmm. Mmmm. 

Important interjection: Hoe cakes are yummy, little buttermilk cornbread pancakes that you fry in a buttered skillet! Several folks asked me on instagram if I meant to say "hot cakes." And the answer is nope! Back in the day, they were cooked on the flat part of a hoe over the fire. Thus the name! Look at all of this fun food history today! PS Hoe cakes recipe will post tomorrow.

You can certainly boil dried peas if you want to. But because this meal is a lot of elbow-grease with three pans going at the same time, I used canned black-eyed peas. They were perfect and so much faster! 

Also, let me get this in real quick. I made this meal all at the same time! But you can absolutely make this soup the day before or even a week before and freeze it! Then just reheat it on the stove while you're makin greens and hoe cakes. 

Here's to a big, full, blessed New Year, y'all! Thanks for letting me be a part of your kitchens. It means the world to me!

serves 6-10 people depending on your people

4 slices of uncooked bacon, cut into pieces
a little olive oil and a pad of butter
small yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, small cubed
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
3 cans black-eyed peas, drained but not rinsed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp creole seasoning like Tony Chachere's
salt and pepper to taste

In a big, heavy-bottomed soup pot, saute bacon pieces until crisp; remove with a slotted utensil and allow to drain on paper towel. Add oil and butter to bacon fat, and saute chopped onion, cubed carrots, and celery over medium-low heat until tender. Salt and pepper right here. Next, shake flour over sauteed veggies and stir for about 2 minutes until the flour cooks a little. Pour beef stock over veggies and stir well. The stir in drained canned peas. Stir in garlic powder and creole seasoning, plus a little more salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cover and simmer on low for at least 30 minutes or longer til the liquid thickens a little. You can add a little more beef stock if you'd like it soupier. Taste as you go, adding more s/p or creole seasoning if you'd like! You can eat this ladled into bowls topped with the crumbled bacon and chopped chives. And you can also spoon it over white rice! Either way, yum.

makes about 6 side-servings

6 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3-4 bunches of fresh collard greens
2-3 cups chicken stock 
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Trim greens from their stems and tear into pieces. Set aside. You're going to think that you'll never ever eat that many greens, but they'll wilt down down down. Don't panic!
In a large pot with a lid like a 5.5qt dutch oven, saute bacon pieces until crispy; remove with a slotted utensil and drain on a paper towel, reserving the fat in the pot. In the bacon grease, saute chopped onion until tender.  Add greens to the pot, and stir. Listen for them to sound like they're frying a little bit. Cover for about 2-3 minutes allowing them to wilt. Remove lid and stir greens. Then add 2 cups of chicken stock, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and several pinches of s/p. Add crispy bacon pieces. Stir well, and cover. Allow to simmer over low heat for 45 minutes or so until tender. Occasionally lift lid, stir, and taste for seasoning. Add seasoning as needed.

Greens can be frozen in freezer bags then reheated in a pot whenever you need them!