It seems that some Southerners resort to black-eyed peas to bring in the New Year. In Haiti, we celebrate with a bowl of Soup Joumou (pumpkin soup) to honor our independence from the French. The first time someone told me this, I thought “Why black-eyed peas”?  Word on the street is that:

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s has been considered good luck for at least 1,500 years. According to a portion of the Talmud written around 500 A.D., it was Jewish custom at the time to eat black-eyed peas in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It’s possible that the tradition arrived in America with Sephardic Jews, who first arrived in Georgia in the 1730s. Common folklore tells that the tradition spread after the Civil War. The Northern Army considered the black-eyed peas to be suitable only for animals, so they didn’t carry away or destroy the crops. –about.com

So, if you’re looking for something a little different than Hoppin’ John this year, try this black-eyed pea dip.  Alternatively, if you want to bring in the New Year in Haitian fashion, try the soup joumou.

Black-Eyed Peas Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14-ounce) Can Black-eyed Peas
  • 1/4 whole Onion, Chopped Fine
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 8 slices Jarred Jalapenos
  • 1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Salsa
  • Hot Sauce, to taste
  • Salt And Black Pepper, to taste

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Soup Joumou (Pumpkin Soup)

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds calabaza pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 pounds beef (neck bones or beef shanks)
  • 1 lime/lemon cut in half and juiced, reserve liquid (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 small scotch bonnet peeper or habanero pepper, whole not chopped
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1  medium onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced thinly
  •  2 celery  stalks, cut in ½ inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 2 turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in 4 to 6 pieces
  • 3 cabbage leaves, chopped or sliced
  • 3 whole cloves
  • ½ cup pasta noodle, or spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon butter

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