Monday, March 7, 2011

Lucky Soup=Lucky Year

Originally posted 12/30/10

There is an old Southern tradition that says you must eat Black Eye Peas (the bean, not the group) and Greens on New Years Day.  These 2 foods are said to bring luck and prosperity in the New Year.  This tradition dates back to the Civil War.  It has something to do with the northerners destroying many of the south’s food sources, but skipping the Black Eye Peas.  The southerners took this to mean that the peas were lucky.  Especially when eaten with greens, which symbolize money.  I’m never one to pass up a cute tradition, and I will take all the help I can get on the luck and prosperity front.  So like my friends in the South….I always eat Black Eye Peas on New Years Day…..while listening to them too;)
Black Eye Peas are a very southern food.  In fact, they are somewhat hard to find in our Yankee grocery stores.  I buy them canned, and luckily, most grocery stores will carry at least one brand around New Year’s.  If you can’t find them, you can substitute any bean in the recipe I am going to show you…..just prepare to be super unlucky;)
Those that know me know that I have a weird obsession with all things southern.  I really feel that I should have been born somewhere in the south, preferably the Carolinas or Georgia, but I’m not picky.  But alas, I am trapped in this Yankee body….so I compensate for this by cooking like a proper southern lady.  Hence, my “Lucky Soup” recipe…..starring Black Eye Peas from a can.  “Lucky Soup” is a twist on beef and vegetable soup.  Do you make your own soup?  You should.  It is so easy and way better then soup from a can.  And not nearly as salty.
I use ground beef (feel free to use turkey…I’m talkin’ to you Audra!), onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, spinach (GREENS!), garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh bay leaf, beef broth and Black Eye Peas.  I am never one to push a certain brand, but “Glory” brand Black Eye Peas come seasoned.  They are simmered with some sort of pork product, garlic and onion, and this is just extra flavor for this soup.  Rumor has it they also make a canned Black Eye Peas and Rice….I have never been able to find that.  If you can, use that! 
I chop all the veggies into little pieces, think little bites;)  For the rosemary, I throw in the whole stem.  The leaves will fall off and flavor the soup, and you will just be left with the woody stem to pick out.
A little note about this soup:  Yes, it’s healthy.  I didn’t tell you above because I didn’t want you to stop reading.  I know, I know….healthy food usually isn’t fun! And I know you don’t expect it from me……But I just figured I could usher in the New Year with a skinny Courtney?  Don’t worry, my healthy resolutions don’t usually last through mid-January;)

I start by browning the ground beef in a soup pot.  I didn’t take a picture of this because we all know what brown ground beef looks like, right?  I take it out of the pot and set it aside once it is cooked.
If needed, splash a bit of olive oil into the pot and sauté the carrots, onion, celery and garlic for about 3 minutes.  We aren’t browning the veggies here, just softening them.  I add the mushrooms and keep softening a few more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper every step of the way, but make sure you check the sodium on your beef broth before you go nuts with salt.
I then add the herbs and the broth, cover the pot and let it go for about 10 to 15 minutes.  This isn’t a “simmer all day” kind of soup.  It is a quick cook.
When the veggies are ready (the carrots are tender), I add back in the cooked ground beef.  I throw in the can of beans, undrained.  That broth will flavor the soup and give it good texture.  I also put in the spinach and cook until the beans and spinach are heated through.  Make sure to fish out the rosemary and bay!
I top the soup with some parmesan cheese, mainly because I can’t eat anything without some form of cheese.  This soup is so warm and satisfying…..and lucky!  Give it a try this New Years Day and let me know how the luck and prosperity thing works out.

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year!  I always have mixed feelings about New Year’s Eve/Day.  I am excited to start fresh with a new year, but it just means I am getting older…..which was a good thing when I was 15, but not anymore;)  Anyway….here’s hopin’ I can stay up till midnight!  See you in 2011;)

Lucky Soup
1 package ground beef, usually about 1 1/3 pounds
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 to 2 fresh Bay Leaves
1 to 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary
1 15 ounce can Seasoned Black Eye Peas
 3 cups fresh spinach
6 cups beef broth

Sauté ground beef, on medium high, in a soup pot.  Set aside.  Add a little oil, if necessary, to pan and sauté onion, carrots, celery and garlic for about 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté an additional 4 minutes.  Add fresh herbs and beef broth.  Cover pan and cook, on medium, for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until all veggies are tender.  Add beans and spinach and heat through.  Fish out bay and rosemary stems. 
Serves about 8

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