Super Soup Series: Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

New Year’s Traditions Around the World

All around the world, New Year’s Day is a day for new beginnings.  Along with setting resolutions and taking down the holiday decorations, several traditions have evolved that are said to bring good luck or prosperity. For example, in Spain the tradition is to eat twelve grapes, one for each month. In France, the new year is celebrated with a stack of pancakes. Here in the southern United States, it’s a common tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.  Supposedly it brings good luck for the new year, but I’ve always held the opinion that I’d rather have bad luck than eat a single black-eyed pea!

My opinion of black-eyed peas changed once I tasted this soup, however! Bacon, ham, and liquid smoke all combine tBlack-Eyed Pea Soupo create a delicious, hearty soup.  Even better, there’s hardly any prep work involved. Just open a few pantry and freezer staples, and in the time it takes to heat up some crusty bread and toss a salad, you’ll have a quick, filling supper.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

  • 2 bags (approx. 12 oz. each) frozen green beans
  • 10 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into bite size
  • 1 16 oz. package cubed ham
  • 2 cans diced new potatoes, drained
  • 3 cans black-eyed peas with bacon
  • 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/4 tsp paprika

In a large pot add green beans and uncooked bacon.

black-eyed pea soup ingredients

Frozen green beans and chopped bacon in a large stockpot are the beginning of a delicious dinner!

Add enough water (approximately 2 quarts) to cover completely. Bring to a boil and boil until the bacon is cooked. (Note: the bacon will not get brown and crispy as it would if pan-fried. Some of the fat will render into the soup and the meaty part of the bacon will start to look cooked.)

Black-Eyed Pea Soup ingredients

Pantry staples make for a huge amount of inexpensive soup!

Add the seasonings and all remaining ingredients.  Cook over medium high heat until broth begins to get thick, about 30 minutes. Serve with tossed salad and crusty bread if desired.

Black-eyed peas are one option, but there are several other foods that people believe can bring good luck or prosperity in the new year.  People in the South also eat collard or other greens to bring wealth, since the greens symbolize the green of money. It might be fun for your whole family to investigate New Year’s traditions from other parts of the United States, or even from around the world. Maybe you will find some fun ideas to create your own New Year’s traditions…just don’t forget to eat your black-eyed pea soup!

What are your family’s New Year’s traditions?

All is Well – Voctave {Music Monday}

All is Well – Voctave {Music Monday}

When the holiday hustle begins to stress me out, one of my favorite ways to unwind is to sit in the glow of the Christmas tree lights late at night. I turn off all the other lights in the house, wrap up in a cozy blanket, and make a cup of something warm and soothing–herbal tea or warm vanilla milk–and sit down to simply enjoy the peace and quiet.

This song by Voctave makes me think of the peace I experience during my late-night meditations.  The lyrics are soft and speak to my soul. When I get frazzled with to-do lists and too many activities, I can be still and remind myself that “all is well.”

All is well because…

All is well because…

Most of all, I can say that “all is well” because God loved this world so much that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Because of the birth of Jesus, the course of the whole world was changed. Jesus was willing to take on human flesh with its weaknesses and failings. Because of his willingness to obey his Father, he made himself nothing. He humbled himself so much that he was even willing to die for us! (Philippians 2:6-8).

I get chills when I stop to truly consider the last verse of “All is Well.” My spirit soars just like the notes of this song. And I can truly say, because of Jesus: All is well!

All is well all is well
Lift up your voice and sing
Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior
Sing Alleluia
Sing Alleluia
All is well

A Christmas Tradition (Eggnog Recipe)

A Christmas Tradition (Eggnog Recipe)

I hate eggnog.

At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself.  It had that weird, tangy whang that left a strange aftertaste in my mouth.  I didn’t understand why my husband liked the stuff, but since he enjoyed it, I dutifully bought a carton every holiday season.  And every year, I’d try the eggnog again, just to see if my tastes had changed.

My taste buds had not changed.  Eggnog was still yucky-tasting to me.

That is, until I discovered this recipe.  Suddenly, eggnog is one of the highlights of our family’s holidays.  No weird flavor here, just a wonderfully creamy drink.  No strange aftertaste, only the delicious spice of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Our whole family looks forward to having a mug of eggnog while we work on a 1,000-piece puzzle together (another of our Christmas traditions).  We’ve even discovered that this eggnog recipe is as delicious served warm as it is cold!

So whether you’re an eggnog aficionado or an eggnog avoider, add this recipe to your holiday to-do list and you just might find your family has a new Christmas tradition too!

Creamy HomemadeEggnog

Holiday Eggnog

Holiday Eggnog Printable Recipe

(Makes about 2 quarts)

4 cups whole milk, divided

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg (more to taste)

4 egg yolks

2 cups each of heavy whipping cream and whole milk

2 tsp vanilla

  • In a large saucepan, heat 3.5 cups of milk, sugar, salt, and spices until hot.
  • In a separate heatproof bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup reserved milk.
  • Very slowly, pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. You must do this in small amounts to temper the eggs.  If you add too much of the hot milk at once, it will cook your eggs!
  • Return the egg and milk mixture to the saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.
  • Pour custard into a large serving bowl (we use a pitcher for convenience). Whisk in 2 cups cream, 2 cups milk, and 2 tsp vanilla. You may need to add more cinnamon and nutmeg at this point.
  • Chill before serving, or enjoy it while it’s still warm.  It’s delicious either way!

Does your family like eggnog?  

What recipes are on your “must-make” list for the holidays?

Super Soup Series: Quick Vegetarian Chili

Super Soup Series: Quick Vegetarian Chili

This time of year, it seems like life is even busier than usual.  From kids’ school programs to office holiday parties to church activities, it can feel like the family is on the go nonstop! When we spend our time shuttling from one event to the next, the fast-food drive-thru can be a huge temptation, especially when you feel like there’s not enough time to prepare a good home-cooked meal.

Well, I’m here to give you a solution! This family-friendly vegetarian chili is easy on the budget and comes together in minimal time. You can even put it in the crockpot and let it simmer all day long. What could be better than coming home to dinner already waiting for you?

As written, this recipe is vegetarian (even better, it’s actually vegan, if you omit the optional cheese and sour cream toppings). Of course, you can also use vegan versions of the cheese and sour cream if that suits your family’s preferences.  Or if you prefer, you can add some browned ground beef. My family likes this chili served with hot buttered cornbread.

No matter which way you serve it, your family is sure to enjoy this vegetarian chili! And you’ll appreciate how quickly dinner can be served when you’re under the time crunch of the holidays.

Quick Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, undrained
  • 2 cans (14 oz. each) hominy, drained
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced (optional)

Additional optional ingredients to top each bowl:

  • Sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until hot all the way through. Remove from heat and add cheese if desired, stirring until melted. Top with sour cream and cilantro as desired.


Super Soup Series: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Super Soup Series: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Pleasing Even the Pickiest Palates

I have a certain child (who shall not be named) who is extremely picky.  Our family jokes that she’s on the brown-and-white diet, i.e. she only eats brown and white foods.  And don’t even dare to serve her a green vegetable! I have no idea where her pickiness comes from, but I was thrilled when I tried this broccoli cheddar soup for the first time and she actually ate it! And better yet, she liked it!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 6-8 c. chicken broth (or veggie broth)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 c. sharp or extra-sharp cheddar, grated
  • 2 heads fresh broccoli, finely chopped
  • 2 lbs chicken, cooked and chopped (optional)

Saute onion and garlic in butter until translucent. Add the flour and stir until bubbly. Add the milk and the broth and stir frequently until thickened. Stir in all remaining ingredients except the cheese and simmer 30-40 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Do not let it come to a boil. Last, stir in the cheese and heat until melted.

Flexible Options to Suit Every Taste

One of my favorite things about this soup is that it’s very flexible. Sub veggie broth for the chicken broth, and it’s compatible with most vegetarian diets. Have some carrots on hand that you need to use up? Throw them in with the broccoli! You can grate or finely dice the carrots–my family prefers grated.  The carrots add a great color and some extra nutrition as well. You can even add some finely chopped cauliflower.

With the holidays right around the corner, you’ll probably end up having plenty of turkey leftovers. After you’ve had your fill of turkey sandwiches, try tossing the leftover turkey into this soup instead of using chicken.  And although I haven’t personally tried it, I bet some cubed ham would taste great also!

One final note: Make sure you use sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese! The flavors tend to mellow once they’re combined, and mild cheddar leads to a bland-tasting soup.  Also, the cayenne pepper adds a slight kick, which my family doesn’t mind.  Start with less if you think it might be too spicy for your tastes.

I hope you’ll try this soup and enjoy it as much as we do!  Any recipe that gets my picky eater to consume some veggies is a winner in my book!


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