All around the world people eat certain foods on New Years that they believe will bring them good luck for the new year. I grew up in the Deep South and we believed that certain food was black-eyed peas. The peas look like little coins when cooked, so they are thought to symbolize wealth. They also swell when cooked, another sign of prosperity.
I alternate between serving black-eyed pea soup and southern caviar for New Years. Today I’ve chosen black-eyed pea soup because a little cold front has dipped its way south and there’s a bit of a chill in Florida. This soup is fantastic with southern style cornbread (meaning not the sweet cornbread), crusty bread, or an old appetizer favorite of ours - sausage cheese balls. Sausage cheese balls have been around for a long time, are very easy to make, and men go crazy for them. Make a lot because they go fast. My friend Lynn at Happier than a Pig in Mud’s recipe is very similar to mine and here’s a link to her recipe. To serve the soup to a crowd, I use coffee mugs in lieu of bowls and pass the sausage cheese balls separately.
Southern “caviar,” also known as Texas or Longhorn caviar, is made using black-eyed peas rather than fish eggs. It’s a spicy, very colorful salad with black-eyed peas, tomatoes, hot peppers, and southwestern spices that can be used as a dip with chips. If you are a frequent reader, you might remember my recipe, link here.
We rarely go out to a restaurant for New Year Eve and chose to either entertain at home or go to a friend’s house nearby. This year we’ll join friends at our condo’s pool house late in the evening for a little get-together, drink some champagne, and watch the fireworks in downtown from our view across the Caloosahatchee River. Everyone brings something to share and I’m planning on taking a big bowl of my southern caviar, or if it’s cool, this black-eyed pea soup.
What are your plans for New Years Eve? Do you go out? Or do you entertain at home? Or do you do what we’ve done occasionally, which is to share a bottle of champagne and ring in the New Year at home all by ourselves.
Black-Eyed Pea Soup
From My Carolina Kitchen – serves 6
12 oz package black-eyed peas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
2 peeled carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme or herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon tomato paste - see cook's notes
8 oz tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
7 cups water, or a combination of low sodium, low fat beef broth and water - see cook's notes
Worcestershire sauce, optional
Sour cream for garnish
Optional other garnishes include chopped green scallions, small chunks of sautéed ham, chopped cilantro, seeded & chopped jalapeno peppers
Soak peas overnight in a large stock pot with plenty of water to cover. Drain, rinse, and put back into the stock pot with the beef broth, tomato sauce, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
While the peas are coming to a boil, sauté the vegetables and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive in a non-stick skillet until softened and beginning to caramelize. Stir frequently. When browned, sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the dried herbs and stir. Then add the tablespoon of tomato paste, stir to incorporate it into the vegetables, and let it brown a moment or two, then add the sautéed vegetables to the peas.
When peas come to a boil, simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary. Before serving, taste for salt, add if necessary, and discard bay leaves. If you want a touch more flavor, add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Garnish as desired.
Cook's notes: The tomato paste is used to further caramelize the vegetables and the paste should brown a little. For a less “soupy” soup, try 6 cups of liquid and add more liquid if needed.
This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.