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Start-the-Year-Right Soup

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

In the South, there are foods eaten at the beginning of the year because they are believed to be lucky and it is thought that eating these foods will result in a promising new year.  Green vegetables such as collards, kale or spinach are thought to represent money and symbolize an improved financial situation for the year ahead. Beans, such as black eyed peas, are also thought to represent money, and are recommended for a beginning-of-the-year meal. Pork symbolizes progress, based on a pig’s tendency to root in the ground to move itself forward. Thus, it is believed that one of the first meals of the new year should contain greens, beans, and pork, to assure good luck for those gathered around the table.  Rather than preparing each of these foods individually, I have combined them with some unexpected spices, which blend to make a hearty soup that could bring luck to any day of the year.  Happy New Year…and “happy eating” to one and all!

Start-the-Year-Right Soup

1 pound collards, rinsed thoroughly to remove all grit
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon low sodium Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 large or 2 small shallots, approximately 4 ounces, peeled and finely chopped
15 ounce package fresh black eyed peas
1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
15.25 ounce can of corn, with liquid
1 pound of ham slices, coarsely chopped
4 cups vegetable cooking stock
1 cup water
1 ½ teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Kala Jeera seeds (These are also known as black cumin. If unavailable, regular cumin seeds can be used)
¼ to ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt (final amount of salt is related to the type of ham used and should be based on a sample taste after all other ingredients are added to the soup mixture)

Fresh parsley leaves rinsed and chopped can be used as an optional garnish

To prepare the collards:
Remove tough stems from collard leaves. Discarded stems will look like this:
DSC01490Place de-stemmed collard leaf pieces in salad spinner, rinse thoroughly and drain. Repeat the rinse and drain process until all grit is removed from collard leaves. Spin the rinsed leaves to drain as thoroughly as possible. Stack 6 to 8 rinsed and drained collard leaf pieces, starting with the largest piece on the bottom and smaller pieces on top. Roll the leaf pieces together to make a collard leaf “cigar”.
Using a sharp knife, slice the leaf rolls into thin strips, then coarsely chop the collard strips as shown.

Put chopped collards into large bowl. In a small bowl, blend together 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and ground cumin. Add the olive oil mixture to the chopped collards and use a large spatula to coat the collards with the oil mixture. Set the collards aside and allow to blend for approximately 10 minutes.

To prepare the soup:
Heat 1 ½ teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil in large Dutch oven. Add the chopped shallots and fresh black eyed peas and sauté until the shallots are translucent. (The peas will not become soft at this stage) Stir in the chopped, marinated collards and allow to cook on low heat until the collards soften. Add the canned corn, including liquid and stir into the vegetable mixture. Stir in the chopped ham and blend with the sautéed vegetables. Slowly add the vegetable cooking stock and then the water. Add the Sriracha sauce, Kala Jeera or cumin seeds and remaining 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Bring this mixture to a slow boil, then cover, reduce heat and allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes. After the first simmer, taste the soup to determine if added salt is needed. If you determine that added salt is needed, stir in the salt in ¼ teaspoon increments. After adding each ¼ teaspoon salt, wait approximately 5 minutes for the salt to affect the flavor, and then taste the soup to determine desirability of flavor. Please note that the amount of salt added will depend on the type of ham used. I used meat from a fresh, uncured ham which had less sodium than a standard ham. After adjusting the amount salt based on taste, allow the soup to simmer, covered, for an additional 20 minutes. After the final simmer, remove the soup from heat but leave covered. Allow the soup to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. The flavor of the soup improves if prepared at least one day before serving. Serve hot, garnished with chopped, fresh parsley. Makes 6 servings.


2 Responses to “Start-the-Year-Right Soup”

  1. Trish Says:

    Yum! This sounds great! Thanks for explaining the reasons for these foods on New Years Day. I had always wondered why those foods were chosen.

  2. Rose Hood Says:

    You are just amazing and SO creative!!! Finally have found the solution to getting all that I “need” on New Years, or a few days following, to start out eating healthy for the year ahead!!! Thank you!!!!