This past Saturday I was at the grocery store. As I walked the aisles it occurred to me I didn’t have a lunch plan. Coincidentally I had just been paging through The Southern Foodie, a fun new book by Chris Chamberlain. The book’s subtitle is a mouthful but perfectly descriptive: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (And the Recipes That Made Them Famous).
And that is how Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup came to be on my lunch menu. The recipe was simple and appealing, and I had all but two of the ingredients in my pantry already. The two I didn’t have—black-eyed peas and collards—I easily remembered and tossed into my basket. Just an hour later I was back home, serving up this healthy, satisfying soup for lunch.
I did make a couple of changes in the recipe. Chamberlain used water instead of broth, garnishing at the end with optional country ham. I started making the soup as instructed, sautéing onions and garlic, and then simmering the collards, black-eyed peas, and tomatoes in water. But even with salting and peppering the soup tasted flat.
I quickly shifted gears. In a separate pot, I sautéed my prosciutto garnish (much easier to find in the Northeast than country ham) and added it to the simmering soup early on. Just two ounces of pork brought this soup to life.
It was a good reminder for me that meatless is good, but sometimes all it takes is a little meat to transform a dish. We typically try to promote meatless on Mondays, but today we demonstrate how just a little good meat goes such a long way.
Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup (Adapted from The Southern Foodie, Thomas Nelson 2012)
Makes about 2 quarts, serving 4 to 6
1 bunch (1 pound) collard greens, stemmed, washed, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 thin slices prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
1 large onion, cut into medium dice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (15 to 16 ounces each) black-eyed peas, drained
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
Salt and ground black pepper
Bring 6 cups of salted water to boil in a large saucepan. Add collard greens and simmer to partially cook, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large soup kettle. Add prosciutto, sauté until almost crisp, just a couple of minutes. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender, 3 to 4 minutes longer.
Add collard greens and the cooking liquid, peas, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer, generously seasoning with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer until collards are just tender and flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings, including additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve!