Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Soup


Recipe: Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Summary: The traditional New Year’s meal in the South must consist of four things – black-eyed peas, salt pork (ham), greens, and cornbread. It seems like a modest meal, but this tradition predates the invention of modern refrigeration. All of these items were cheap and easily accessible in the South in the dead of winter.

Every food item symbolizes something prosperous for the upcoming year. For instance, the peas bring luck. Pork is considered lucky because pigs eat moving forward and cannot turn their head without turning their whole body. Therefore, they are always looking to the future and will ensure that you will also move forward in the upcoming year.

Greens represent money, so obviously eating a “mess o’ greens” on New Year’s will bring you riches.

Finally, cornbread represents gold. It’s also good for sopping up all that yummy juice (aka pot likker) from the greens. When it comes to a Southern New Year’s meal, it does not pay to be a picky eater. You must eat all four items or the luck won’t stick. Them’s the rules.


    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 cup diced onions
    • 1/2 cup diced leeks, white parts only
    • 1 medium (1 cup) green bell pepper, diced
    • 1 stalk (3/4 cup) celery, diced
    • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
    • 4 ham hocks or ham bones
    • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
    • 2-1/2 quarts chicken stock
    • 1/2 pound collard greens, stems removed, coarsely chopped
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 3/4 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1-1/2 cups diced cooked ham

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Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 2 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

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