Some Luck for the New Year: Black-eyed Pea and Collards Soup

There was a time, not too long past, that you’d have had to tie me down and force feed me anything that came under the heading of “greens,” and collards were most certainly at the top of that list. As a kid I remember that every time I smelled greens cooking, I’d hide or start planning some way to discreetly scrape them off the dinner plate and into a napkin while my parents weren’t looking. To me they were slimy, smelly, and well…GREEN! YUK!

While I still can’t say I’m a fan of turnip greens, I’ve come to embrace other members of the greens family such as spinach, chard, kale and…I never thought the day would come…collard greens! I don’t know if it’s truly a matter of taste buds changing as you grow older or if it was the preparation that made the difference in my love of greens…probably a little of both…but for sure I do love them now. We have some friends who throw a wonderful New Year’s Day open house with black-eyed peas and collards on the menu, and several years ago when I first tasted their spicy collards, I was suddenly, and shockingly, hooked! Now each year I look forward to those peas and greens on New Year’s Day, and it makes me want to cook them with more frequency in my own kitchen.

Our New Year’s Day began quite warm with a high of a toasty-feeling 65 degrees, then plummeted to 30 last night and it will be round 19 tonight. Time for some soup! Last year I discovered this great little recipe for black-eyed pea and collards soup that’s now become my favorite way to start off the new year in a healthy and tasty fashion. This soup is adapted from a Whole Food’s recipe, and it’s a warming, filling and savory dish, and certainly a meal unto itself. Just give me a bowl to enjoy in front of the fire on a chilly night, and I’m a happy camper. And as an extra bonus, this must surely be a way to have good luck and prosperity (and good health, too) for the coming days! A toast to a great 2012, as I raise a lucky and green spoonful of goodness to you all.

Black-eyed Pea and Collards Soup

3 cups dried (and preferably organic) black-eyed peas
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large or 1 jumbo yellow onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 lb. cooked ham, smoked turkey, or leftover turkey breast (I used leftover herbed turkey breast this year, ham last year and I think you could use a combo if you really wanted to)
4 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
8 cups of low sodium chicken broth, plus 1 cup of water
2 bunches of well-washed collard greens, tough stems and ribs removed, and leaves sliced thinly crosswise
6 carrots, trimmed and chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste

Carefully pick through the dried peas to remove and stones or debris. Put them in a large bowl and cover with 3 inches of water. Cover with plastic and allow them to sit at room temp for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, ham or turkey and cook until the onion is translucent, stirring periodically, about 8 minutes. Add the peas, broth and water to the pot, bring to a boil and skim off the foam on top. Reduce the heat to simmer and partially cover the pot. Allow the beans to cook for 45 minutes or until the peas are tender. Add the collard greens and carrots and cook at a simmer for 20 more minutes. Add the salt, black pepper and cayenne, stir well, then taste for seasoning. Add more salt or pepper if needed. Makes 8-10 servings.


23 thoughts on “Some Luck for the New Year: Black-eyed Pea and Collards Soup

  1. We’re about to start having lots of soups for supper to counteract all the lard and naughty stuff we’ve eaten over Christmas. I’m adding this to me ‘must make’ list as it’s exactly the type of healthier food we’re looking for. Thanks!


    • I know what you mean, noodle, as I’m quite sure I’ve “found” 5 extra pounds in spite of eating healthy between the naughty stuff! You’re welcome for the recipe and I’m glad I could add a healthy idea to the list, and hope that you both enjoy it as much as we do…we’re having some soup tonight, in fact! 🙂


  2. I must have my black-eyed peas on New Years day for luck. Your soup sounds great. I will remember this for next year as I can only get my husband to eat them once a year.


  3. I’ve never heard of black-eyed peas for luck, but hey I sure could use a bit of good luck. I too need to combat the after-effects of the holidays and could use some healthy soup options. I’ve had good success with a greek tomato and bean soup with the ponytails, so I’m wondering how this might go over. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never tried collards. Are they anything like swiss chard?


    • Hi there! I think collards are a little bit like chard in that they have a similar type of bitterness, but they are a bit thicker in texture…more like a cabbage leaf. They need to cook a little longer than chard, spinach or kale because of that. I have sauteed them and mixed them with kale before and used them in place of all kale in my penne with sausage, tomato and kale recipe with a good result. They are traditionally (in the south) served with hot sauce by themselves, or cooked with peppers/pepper sauce and onion, and they do seem to like a bit of spice in my opinion. This soup really blends flavors a lot with the garlic, onion and peas and the addition of the cayenne gives it a nice little controllable kick. If the ponytails like chard and a little spice, as well as black-eyed peas…I’d think they’d like this! We actually liked this made with turkey better than with ham…but both are good!


  4. This is a delicious looking soup and although I may be a little late to the party for New Year’s, I’m sure it will make a great meal in one of the cold days that Winter has in store for us. Thanks for sharing!


    • Hey John, as you said, I think this is good for any cold winter’s night, and like most soups, it gets better the next day. I’d like to think that the combo provides some ongoing luck into the new year, too!


  5. I don’t think I’ve ever tried collard greens Betsy, sounds like something from the deep south! I do love my black eyed beans, we often make a risotto of them with just the beans, mushrooms, dried woodland mushrooms and mushroom stock (this is the water that has been heavily scented with the mushroom flavour from the dehydration process. This looks like a lovely hearty soup. It’s started to get a bit warmer in the big smoke, maybe spring is right around the corner 😉


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    • Oh, no Eva! What is it with these end of the year ailments? Of course this post was from January of this year and I haven’t made this yet or I’d sent you some up to Canada! 😉 Actually I just bought the ingredients all pre-chopped due to my hand situation…something I never do but necessary this time! I sure do hope you feel better in time to ring in a Happy New Year, Eva!


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