New Year Soul: Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Pea Soup

New Year Soul: Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Pea Soup

blackeyedpeasoupBlack-eyed peas are practically de rigeur  for New Year celebrations  — I personally cannot remember too many New Year’s Days were I didn’t have it. Among my family and community, it is believed that eating a hearty serving of the beans ensures good luck into the coming year.

I didn’t particularly care for the usual way it was prepared and served; slow cooked for hours with ham hock and then poured over a bed of white rice. As I got older, I definitely was looking for alternatives. I was looking for a compromise that would let me get my yearly dose of good luck but was healthy and tasty.

Enter this next recipe. The flavors are bold and a bit of bacon provides the smoke. You can even forgo the bacon and substitute vegetable broth to make this dish a vegetarian treat! Add some Creamed Cornbread on the side, and you have New Year’s meal that is a healthy and flavorful twist on the traditional favorite

May everyone have a safe and very healthy and happy New Year!


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, (4 sliced and 1 whole), divided
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 5 cups chopped collard greens, or kale leaves (about 1 bunch), tough stems removed
  • 1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 6 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette, preferably whole-grain, cut on the diagonal
  • 6 tablespoons shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, finely chopped


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add sliced garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Increase heat to high and add broth, tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in collard greens (or kale), reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig. Stir in black-eyed peas; remove from the heat and cover.
  2. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.
  3. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and broil until lightly toasted, 2 to 4 minutes. Rub each bread slice with the remaining garlic clove. (Discard garlic.) Turn the slices over and top with cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, 1 to 3 minutes. Serve the soup topped with the cheese toasts and bacon.


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