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In the south, food is closely tied to many of our celebrations and traditions. One I’m especially fond of is the tradition of eating greens and black-eyed peas (with cornbread, of course) on New Year’s day.
What ties the first day of the new year and these foods together? Well, there are two sayings that sum this tradition up perfectly…
The first one explains the symbolism of the humble legume, our beloved cholesterol-lowering black-eye pea: “Eat poor on New Year’s, and eat fat the rest of the year.” But the reason greens and cornbread accompany the peas (besides the fact that we love them) is explained in this phrase: “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.”
I grew up eating these staples separately on my dinner plate along with some ham, but a couple of years ago I discovered New Year’s Day Turnip Green soup. Not only is it a comforting soup, it’s tasty and you can throw all your ingredients into your crockpot to make it. And if there is someone in your family that turns their nose up at greens, this soup will make a greens lover out of them. That’s a good thing because turnip greens have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and they’re an excellent source of vitamins C, E and K.
To make it even easier to create this meal, I use canned vegetables. My grandmother would wash, soak and boil fresh greens, but trust me, that’s a lot of work. Especially when pulled fresh and dirty from the garden.
Just be sure to go for the organic canned goods, so you don’t feed your family a boatload of BPA (from the plastic lining in regular canned foods).
I hope you held onto your hambone from Christmas dinner… if not, just dice up some precooked ham or smoked sausage to use instead. Enjoy, ya’ll!
- Ham bone with some ham still attached (or a cup of diced pre-cooked ham or smoked sausage)
- 1 27 oz. can seasoned turnip greens
- 1 16 oz. can of condensed chicken and rice soup (add water per instructions on can)
- 1 15 oz. can of seasoned black-eyed peas
- 1 10 oz. can of Ro Tel (mild) or dice one cup of tomato and a half cup each of onion and mild green chili pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Place all ingredients into crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours so the tastes mix well. If you are in a hurry you can cook this in a pot on the stove — simmering uncovered for about half an hour. If you like your soup soupy, or less soupy, just adjust the liquid content as you prefer. Serve with cornbread.