Sunday, January 1, 2012

Black-Eyed Peas for Prosperity and Luck, Y'all

New Year's Day Black-Eyed Peas
"Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day brings good luck for the entire year!"

My husband is from the south, an ol' Texas boy. I remember his mother at her kitchen stove, stirring a pot of black-eyed peas every New Year's Day. Her advice was always the same: Just a spoonful will bring you good luck all year long. I can't say that it always worked but it's a nice tradition.

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity. In the Southern United States, the peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce. The traditional meal also features collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. I took a basic recipe for Black-Eyed Peas and jazzed it up a bit. I got this colorful, tasty soup:

1 pound dry black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
48 oz. low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 cups chopped, cooked ham
1 onion, diced & sauteed
1 bag matchstick carrots
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes, including juice
1 can Rotel tomatoes, including juice
1/2 tsp. pepper, salt to taste
1 tsp. oregano
few good shakes Tabasco
1 bag baby spinach

1. Place peas in large soup pot. Fill pot with water. Sort out any hard or misshapen peas, or anything that looks like it doesn’t belong. Bad peas usually float to the top. Let stand overnight (at least 8 hours). Drain soak water, rinse peas in fresh cold water.
2. Place soaked black-eyed peas in 8 quart pot. Add chicken broth and 2 cups water. Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached, about 1 hour. Skim off foam.
3. Stir in ham and sauteed diced onions, carrots, canned diced tomatoes and Rotel. Season with pepper, oregano and Tabasco. Bring all ingredients to boil, reduce heat and simmer on low heat for another hour. Add 1 bag baby spinach to pot and allow to wilt, about 1 minute. Serve with cornbread.
Original Recipe Yield 16 (1/2 cup) servings


  1. Love it! Now I have to try to find the Rotel so this will be a true Texas dish :) Many thanks !

  2. Katrina: When my in-laws first moved here in the 1950's, they had cases of Rotel shipped from Texas because they couldn't get it in the grocery stores. Now most of the stores stock Rotel.