Good Luck Black-Eyed Pea Soup

     Just home from the grocery store where I purchased a can of black-eyed peas as I figured we needed as much good luck as possible for the coming year!
    We had never eaten  black-eyed peaa until attending a New Year’s party in Junction City sometime during the early 1970s. Nor were we aware that a bowl of these legumes supposedly brings good luck for the year. I was even lucky enough to discover a dime in mine which was supposed to increase my luck ten times!
     Who can say if it worked? Although I didn’t win the lottery (was there even one back then?), I figured that maybe it helped a little. Well anyway, we haven’t taken a chance since or, is it that we just like keeping alive those silly little superstitutions associated with food?
      There have been times we’ve soaked the dry peas and created the traditional hoppin’ John dish (peas and rice) but several years ago we started doing a simple and quick version using the canned variety.
      Some eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve, others save them for New Year’s Day. We’re having them for lunch (New Year’s Eve) and will save some for tomorrow – hopefully doubling our luck in 2012!

Black-Eyed Pea Soup   About 4 servings
About 4 slices of  diced bacon
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced carrots
1 medium or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 (15.5 oz.) can black-eyed peas with liquid
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup white wine
1½ cups beef broth
½ cup instant brown rice (use ¾ cup if you want a thicker soup)

1. In a stock pot over medium high heat, sauté the bacon until crisp. Set aside the bacon. Add the celery, onion, pepper and carrots to the pot; sauté in the bacon fat for about 10 minutes, or until tender (add a little olive oil if there’s not enough fat); add minced garlic near the end of the cooking time.

2. Add the peas, tomatoes, broth, wine and rice. Cook until rice is tender. Or, let soup simmer for a longer period of time, adding rice during the last 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Top with crumbled bacon when serving. Other possible additions: additional chopped onions, red peppers and/or grated cheese.

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