new year, new soup

It was a sad and strange end to 2013, a year I'm eager to leave behind.  Just before Thanksgiving, we lost two of our favorite people (and family members) within a couple days of one another of unrelated illnesses.  Rush's uncle Jon, and aunt Lynne have inspired us to be generous with our time and spirit and we miss them a ton already.  Rush and I spent three weeks in Australia, helping his parents get organized to sell their houses/cars/boat/etc, effectively missing American Thanksgiving while we were there.  We got home little more than a week before Christmas, and I ended up with bronchitis and an ear infection, so I spent the holiday a little detached from reality (thanks to Dayquil, Nyquil, and other assorted remedies).  New year's was equally as lame quiet, finding us eating Chinese takeout and in bed at 10pm, ready to wake up to a brand new year.

In the south, it's customary to eat black eyed peas, collard greens ("collards" as they call 'em), and pork on new year's day for good luck.  Because I'm married to a southerner (and because I could use some of that good luck), I oblige the tradition.  An excess of over-eating during the holidays got me thinking that a hearty (but still healthy) soup would be a great start to the chilly new year.

I am not a scratch cook. I will never be one because I lack self confidence or something.  If I post recipes here, they're usually just links to other people's recipes.  And this isn't much different because I basically melded two different recipes.

Without further ado...


New Year's Day Soup

  • 8 cups of chicken stock (homemade or store bought is fine; make sure it's stock and not broth)
  • 8+ cups of water
  • 3 lbs meaty pork neck bones
  • 1/2 lb thick sliced smoked bacon, cut into half slice pieces (or) slab bacon, cut into large chunks
  • 8 ribs of celery, sliced medium thick
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced medium thick
  • 1 regular size bunch of fresh collard greens, ribs removed and cut to 1" sq. pieces
  • 20 oz. black eyed peas (store bought, soaked) 
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs/seeds removed and sliced into large chunks
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt/pepper to taste


In a large, heavy stockpot, add stock, water, pork neck bones and bacon and bring to a boil. Once reached, skim off any visible fat and allow to remain at a simmer for 2 hours.  Remove neck bones and pull off meat.  Add back to pot.  Pull out bacon (and reserve any meat if desired). 

Add jalapeno, dried herbs, and additional water if needed.  Bring to a simmer for another 30 minutes.  Add black eyed peas and cook for 20 minutes, Add lemon juice, celery, and carrots and cook for 20 minutes.  Add collards and cook until the greens just barely turn dark green.  Add salt/pepper to taste.

If the soup is not thick enough for your preference, remove two small scoops of beans, and mash with the side of a knife.  Add back to the soup and stir.  The starch in the beans should help thicken the soup.

Keep in mind that soup is always better the next day, so you're encouraged to make a day ahead.  And one final note from a soup chef I admire, "use more salt than you think is necessary" especially if using homemade or low sodium stock.   


Soup inspired by...

Ham and Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Collard Greens |  Gourmet  | December 1998   

Smoky Black-eyed Pea and Ham Soup

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