Facebook is such an incredible thing. The brainchild of some wonderfully bright college students, it has grown in just a few years into the major social media site on the internet today. Facebook is great for keeping up with all the comings and goings of your family and friends, but what I like best is the awesome ability it gives to re-connect with people. I’ve found lots of my old high school friends, some previous co-workers and other people I had known and almost forgotten over the years. It’s so nice to be able to rekindle friendships and to find out where people are and what they’ve been doing.
My high school classmates had a little gathering last Spring. Not an actual reunion – that’s coming up this year – but just a get-together over dinner at one of the restaurants in my little home town. And the organizers primarily used Facebook to communicate the details to all of us. Of course, not every one of my classmates are on Facebook, but those of us who are really enjoy it as a way to keep in touch.
I’ve written before about my home town and what a special place it is to those of us who grew up there. That tiny little town tucked away in the southwestern corner of Georgia. Almost in Florida, almost in Alabama, but Georgians to the core. So small that when I was a child, there were only two schools – the elementary school and the high school. We went to elementary school through sixth grade and then on to high school for seventh. Each grade in elementary school had only two teachers with about 25 students. And no assistants! The teachers did it all in the classroom. Including making us mind our manners. And you’d better believe that if you misbehaved in school, your mama would know about it before you got home.
My classmates and I, for the most part, went all the way through school together. First grade through graduation. It was really rare for there to be a “new kid” in school. Usually the only new kids we ever had were when the town got a new “Georgia Power man” or one of the churches changed pastors. We were a pretty close-knit bunch and many of us have stayed in touch through the years. Lots of us even went on to college together.
However, there were a few who were more adventurous, more inquisitive, more restless than the others. They struck out on their own to explore the wider world. Sometime last year I reconnected with one of my more adventurous classmates, Michael, with the help of Facebook. I’m not sure of all the paths Michael’s journey has taken leading him to the place where he is now. I’m just content to have reconnected and to know that another of my childhood friends is leading a happy and fulfilled life.
Just after New Year’s Day, Michael posted on Facebook about a recipe that he and his wife had enjoyed and which, as he said, nourished his Southern roots. With his permission, I took the recipe, added a bit to it and came up with my own version – this Peas and Greens Soup. It’s all the best elements of the classic Southern Hoppin’ John with a few greens thrown in for good measure. I think you’ll really enjoy this one!
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Crumble a pound of bulk pork sausage with sage into the skillet and cook it until all traces of pink are gone. Then add a cup chicken stock, some chopped celery, chopped sweet red pepper and onion. Stir it well, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any cooked on bits. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are just crisp-tender.
Meanwhile, in a large soup or stock pot set over medium-high heat, place three cups of chicken stock, the rice mix with its seasoning packet and the drained black eyed peas. Bring to a boil.
Add in the sausage and vegetable mixture along with tomatoes, water, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is done.
Add the spinach and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve the soup garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and sliced green onion. Cornbread makes a fine accompaniment.
A soup that combines the classic elements of Southern Hoppin' John with lots of fresh spinach.
- 1 lb. bulk pork sausage with sage
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- ½ sweet red pepper, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock, divided
- 1 pkg. brown and wild rice seasoned mix (recommend Zatarain)
- 2 cans black eyed peas, drained
- 2 cans diced tomatoes with liquid
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 6 oz. baby spinach
- Parmesan cheese, shaved, optional
- Sliced green onions, optional
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook until all traces of pink are gone.
- Add 1 cup chicken stock, celery, sweet red pepper and onion.
- Stir well, scraping the bottom to release any cooked on bits.
- Cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Meanwhile, in a large soup or stock pot set over medium-high heat, add the remaining 3 cups of chicken stock, the rice mix with its seasoning packet and the black eyed peas.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add in the sausage and vegetable mixture along with the tomatoes, water, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat to low.
- Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is done.
- Add the spinach and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
- Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and sliced green onion. Serve with cornbread.
Other black eyed pea recipes you might enjoy from around the internet:
- Steamy Kitchen’s Black Eyed Peas with Ham
- Black Eyed Pea Salsa from The Pioneer Woman
- Indian Spiced Black Eyed Peas from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Black Eyed Pea Soup from Lisa’s Kitchen
What I was cooking…