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.