Every New Year's day, we would eat our "Good Luck" lunch at my Grandmother's house. As every Southerner, particularly those from the more rural areas of the south, knows there are some very firm rules about a New Year's repast. There must be greens for "folding money," black-eyed peas for coins, and hog jowls for general good luck. Failure to include these items on your New Year's plate would only tempt fate in the new year.
This year, New Year's came in like a blustery old Lion and a good bone-warming soup is in order. Luckily, my friend Colleen created a "Good Luck" soup that combines all the essential elements for good luck in a hearty, warm and ridiculously tasty treat. Let me start this recipe by telling you right off that I am not fond of greens, collard, turnip or mustard. My Mom would eat as much as she could out of the pot on my Gingo's (Grandmother) stovetop. Not my fav. I also am fond of defining hog jowls a bit liberally depending on my menu. Hog jowls are, as the name implies, the jowl of a hog. They are good to use with beans or greens much like fatback or streak of lean, but in general are not much in the way of eating. I like to interpret hog jowls as bacon, (I mean, do we ever need any more excuses to eat bacon?), or pork loin for more elegant occasions.
Having admitted all this, I am here to tell you that this soup has made a believer out of me in the wonders of collards. This soup is sublime.
To begin, you will need a shopping list:
1 bunch of fresh collards
2 onions, I prefer Vidalia or Texas sweet
1 red bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1/4 cup of fresh horseradish
1 big bag of frozen black-eyed peas
either, 1/2 gallon of beef broth or 1/2 gallon of water and 6 tbs of "Better than Bouillon" beef flavor.
"Better than Bouillon" is sold in most grocery stores and is usually right by the broth. It is a broth that is condensed and sold in small jars. It comes in chicken, beef or vegetable and I prefer it over broth since I can control the flavor intensity and, in particular, the vegetable has a great consistent flavor. Often I find vegetable broths are too beety, or carroty or just not what I want the flavor to be and the "Better than" seems to be just right every time.
Chop the onions and pepper finely and the collard leaf into 1/2 inch sections so that it is easier to eat with a spoon. Saute the onions and bell pepper in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When they are limp, add the horseradish and the collards. Cook, while stirring occasionally. for about 2 minutes. If you have just used a saute pan, transfer to a soup pot large enough for all the ingredients. Add the peas, and broth or instead of the broth, 6 tbs of the "Better than Bouillon" and 1/2 gallon of water. Let come to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with crumbled bacon on top (thought I forgot the "hog jowl" didn't you?) and some crusty bread. Left overs can be frozen.
Enjoy! and may 2012 bring you luck, prosperity, love and laughter!