Friday, January 6, 2017

Hoppin' John Soup

There are so many different traditions related to food on New Year's Day. In the area where we live, a common tradition is to have pork and sauerkraut for luck. This year, while perusing recipes online, I stumbled across a recipe for Hoppin' John soup, which is also supposed to be a lucky dish to eat on the first day of the New Year, but tends to be more of a southern tradition. I decided to give it a try as something different.  I have to admit that while it did look good, I was not anticipating it being a huge hit. Let me tell you, it was.  And I hope that this soup isn't meant to be eaten only on New Year's Day, because I plan to make it all year long.  I don't know that I have ever cooked anything with Black Eyed Peas (which are actually beans, not peas, so you can eat them, Dad, despite the fact that you won't go near green peas with a ten foot pole) and my experience with Collard Greens is very limited, but the flavor combination in this soup had my whole family going back for more.  As for the luck it is supposed to bring, so far so good!  Happy New Year, all!


  • 1 small bunch (about 1 pound) collard greens
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces smoked ham steak, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped (I used a handful of baby carrots because I was out of whole)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • One 15 1/2-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (I used a packet)
  • Dash of hot sauce, preferably Tabasco
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping 

  1. Remove the stems and center ribs from the collard greens. Stack about six leaves on top of each other, roll into a cigar shape, and slice into thin ribbons. 
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, toss in the ham, onion, garlic, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, roughly 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the red-pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Add the collard greens, and sauté until they begin to soften. 
  3. Pour in the chicken broth, the bay leaf, the black-eyed peas, and the can of tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir the rice into the soup to warm. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. 
  4. Spoon into bowls, and sprinkle each bowl with Parmesan cheese. 
I wish this picture did it justice!

Difficulty: easy
Time: 15 minutes prep, about 40 minutes cooking
Source: adapted from

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sausage and Brown Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

I was a bit sad to pick up my CSA today, as it was the last bag for the season.  I love getting my fresh-from-the-farm veggies, and though I felt it was a bit of a challenge to figure out what to do with everything when I first started to get the CSA, now that I have a number of go-to recipes to use, I love having the produce dictate my menu.  Our CSA had an awesome crop of squash this year, so I have been working on a number of recipes to use them.  One great thing about squash is that it has a shelf life that is way longer than typical produce; if I don't use them right away, they are still great.  I love all of the flavors in this recipe, and I love that when I made it, my kids said, "You know, I really like squash!" As if they wouldn't. ;)

  • 2 acorn squash 
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage (bulk if you can find it, otherwise remove casings)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves (fresh) (or use 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (I use the microwavable bags)
  • Shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Halve squash and remove seeds. Place squash halves, cut side up, on the baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook rice.
  3. Brown sausage over medium heat, adding the onion, garlic, and pepper just when the sausage begins to brown.  Saute until sausage is browned and veggies are tender, add the rice and thyme.
  4. Once squash is roasted, spoon the sausage mixture into the halves until they are overflowing.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over each half.  Return squash to oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown slightly.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: a bit more than an hour, total
Source: adapted from