One of my favorite Southern traditions is eating black eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day, which is believed to bring luck and prosperity throughout the year. The black-eyed peas are for luck, and the greens are for wealth.
Ask any Southerner about the origins of this tradition and you are likely to get a variety of responses. One of the most popular stories is that black eyed peas are thought to bring good luck because they were the only food that survived Sherman’s march through the South during the Civil War, because the Union soldiers thought that it was just food for slaves and livestock and wasn’t important enough to pillage.
There are varying degrees of superstition with this tradition – the most extreme being that one must eat exactly 365 black eyed peas in order to be lucky on every single day of the new year. Some families put a dime in the greens and it is believed that whoever gets the dime in their bowl of greens will be the most prosperous that year, that is assuming they don’t crack their teeth on the coin and have to pay for dental work.
Many Southern families also eat pork with their black eyed peas and greens since it is believed that eating a fatty meat such as pork will bring on a ‘fat’ year with many blessings. Corn bread is also a common addition, which some believe represents gold.
Regardless of whether you believe in the superstition, it makes an excellent meal for lunch on New Year’s Day that’s comforting and easy to make. Families all have their own special way of incorporating the ingredients into a meal which is passed down for generations, so I’m going to share you my mom’s New Year’s Day turnip green soup recipe. It’s very easy to make and gets your lucky black eyed peas, greens, and pork all in one dish! I hope it brings you all luck and prosperity in 2011!
New Years Day Turnip Green Soup
- 2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen turnips with diced roots (or a big bunch of fresh turnip greens if you can find them)
- 2 cans Black Eyed Peas drained and rinsed(When it’s not New Years Day I use Northern Beans)
- 1 large diced onion
- 1 lb. Conecuh regular or smoked sausage, sliced in circles–no need to cook first
- 1 box Knorr’s Spring Vegetable soup and dip mix
- 2 large or 4 regular cans chicken broth, enough to cover everything (I use low sodium)
- 1 Tbsp of oil
Heat the oil in a stock pot and sauté the onion on medium heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for at least a half hour.