Black-eyed Pea Soup with Wild Mushrooms

This is one recipe that I would have never dreamed of cooking before I moved to the South. I honestly never had black-eyed peas or turnip greens (or any other kind of greens) until I was 25 years old. Black-eyed peas are supposed to bring good luck for the New Year. I've heard, and read several different versions of this, however, the one that sticks with me the most, is that black-eyed peas represent copper coins and turnip greens represent paper money; thereby bringing prosperity for the coming year. Some even say that you need to eat 365 black-eyed peas on New Years to guarantee good luck for every day! I really can't imagine eating 365 beans but I know that the result would be much less desirable than good luck!
Several years back I celebrated News Years with some friends at the beach, someone cooked up an awesome soup with black-eyed peas, collard greens and a ham hock. It was this soup that I had in mind when I bought some frozen black eyed peas and frozen turnip greens just before Christmas, intending to make this recipe for News Years Day. With the holidays being so hectic this year I never got around to actually making the soup until this past weekend. It proved to be a perfect soup to warm you up on a cold January day, with or with the superstitions! The earthiness of the black-eyed peas are complimented by the very earthy wild mushrooms, and the ham hock gives it a rich smoky flavor.

Black-eyed Pea Soup with Wild Mushrooms
Serves 4-6

2 cups of pre-soaked black-eyed peas (frozen or canned can be substituted)
2 cups of frozen Turnip Greens (16 oz package)
1 ham hock
@1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium Onion- chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic- chopped fine
2 stalks of celery- diced
2 carrots- peeled and chopped to bite sized
1/2 cup cooking Sherry
4 cups chicken broth (or stock)
3 cups filtered water
1 dried chili pepper (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 Tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

• Place the wild mushrooms in a bowl and cover them with warm water. Let them soak for @ 40 minutes, save the water.
• Heat a large pot to medium-high with the olive oil, Stir in the onions, cook for about one minute.
Mix in the garlic, celery and carrots cook for a few minutes, then add the dried chili pepper, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix all together well.
Next add the ham hock, sherry, black-eyed peas, turnip greens, and wild mushrooms along with the liquid they were soaking in. Mix together and let cook for two or three minutes.
Now add the chicken broth and water, bring to a boil on high heat. Stirring occasionally.
Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to low, keeping it at a low boil. Cook it like this, uncovered, for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once done remove the bay leaves, chili pepper and the ham hock.
Cut the meat off of the ham hock. Discard the fat and bone, cut the good meat into bite-sized pieces and return them to the soup. (optional)
Serve and enjoy!


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