Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Dinner

Even though I firmly believe that 2009 will be a great year, it never hurts to have a little extra help. Each January first, I cook a traditional dish that is supposed to bring good luck throughout the year. Last year it was Curried Black-eyed Pea Soup.

This year it was Curried Black-eyed Pea Soup, made slightly differently and accompanied by braised swiss chard and some really delicious corn muffins containing three kinds of pepper. This was a quadruple-whammy dinner -- the peas represent prosperity and humility, the greens represent money, the ham symbolizes positive, forward motion, and the corn stands for golden money.

I made a few changes in the soup recipe. Instead of bacon, I diced some ham and sauteed it with the onions, celery, and spices. I also used dried peas, giving them a quick soak before the final cooking. They were 98% tender after the quick-soak, so came out perfectly after cooking 20 minutes in the soup. Using dried peas is cost-effective, since I cook only the amount I need, and they are always available in my pantry.

The corn muffins were very good, but I can't talk about them in this post. Come back again on January 13.

This soup is worth making any time of the year, not just for New Year's Day, and it has become a family favorite.

Curried Black-eyed Pea Soup
(2009 changes are in blue)

2-5 bacon slices, diced (depending on personal preference) (1 cup of diced ham)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3 15-oz cans black-eyed peas (1 1/4 cups dried peas, quick-soaked and drained)
2 cups chicken broth (6 cups of chicken broth)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a large pot (3- to 5-quart) cook the bacon (ham) over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until golden. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add the spices during the last minute, and stir to heat them up and bring out the flavors. (If you like it spicier, just increase the amount to taste.) Add the peas and chicken brroth, and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

You can change the texture of the soup by blending all or some of it, depending on your preferences. I usually puree some of the soup using a stick blender to thicken it slightly.

Sprinkle on some chopped parsley before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Extra help sounds good to me! And curried black-eye pea soup sounds grand.

n.o.e said...

You've got every kind of new year's luck covered with this meal! And it all looks fabulous. Love the soup.