This is one of those New Year’s Day food traditions. Eat this Ham, Beans and Greens Soup to bring you good luck in the new year! And Oh my – wasn’t 2016 one heck of a ride? We all seem to need good luck going forward. Read on to see why this combination of ingredients is so lucky..
When I was a little girl growing up in Kentucky, New Year’s Eve was one of my favourite days of the year. I would get to stay up late and party with my Mamaw Margaret, her sister, Aunt Dot, and her grandchildren Laura and Clay. Along with Aunt Dot’s ceremonial shooting of the shotgun into the night air, we made a gloriously loud racket banging pots and pans at the stroke of midnight. Mamaw and Aunt Dot would then insist that the first thing to pass our lips in the new year was a bite of beans – in particular black eyed peas.
So, along with beans or black eyed peas, people in the olden days would always eat pork on New Years Day. Most people will have had a big Christmas ham, and this was the perfect way to make it last longer. Here is the blurb on the tradition of eating this particular combo on New Year’s from Wikipedia: The traditional meal includes collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread also often accompanies this meal. The cornbread represents gold. There you go!
So we officially had the worlds biggest ham, which fed 5 adults three times, and after it was as picked apart as much we possibly could, I realised even the bone wouldn’t fit into my pot! So we hacked away with a saw, which I know gave my husband Rogan a cave man kind of thrill.
This is not really a recipe, more of an idea or a formula, and I love that about this kind of cooking. Its so simple. I didn’t think too much about this, I allowed myself to channel my inner Little House on the Prairie in the making of this stew. This would have been made by homesteaders and passed down through the ages – but really I can actually imagine this is kind of what cooking was like from the time that humans started cooking with fire. You need a big pot, a big a#$ bone, some water and veggies. Done.
The broth from the bones is so good for you with all the minerals, collagen, and bone marrow – and of course I love the practical and economical side of making several more meals out of your leftovers.
Here is your recipe for Lucky Ham, Beans and Greens Soup:
- 1½ cups dried pulses
- 1 ham bone
- water to cover
- 1 large bunch soft leafy greens, such as spinach or silverbeet
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 carrots
- 2 onions
- Soak the pulses in water for 6-8 hours (overnight is easiest)
- In a large pot, cover the ham bone with water, and add one onion and one carrot, bay leaves, 2 garlic cloves (whole) and the molasses. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer. Cover and cook for approx 4 hours.
- Chop the other onion, carrot, remaining garlic and bottoms of the greens (if needed). In another pot, add some olive oil and sweat the other onion, carrot and green stems until softened, about 5-10 minutes.
- Drain the bones, reserving the liquid. Pour this into the pot with the sautéing carrot, onion and greens. Add the pulses and cook for around half an hour more.
- Add the leafy green tops depending on the kind you have. See notes.
- When the ham bones are cool enough to touch, pick the remaining meat off, shred and add to the pot.
Some greens (such as Collard) require even longer so add them to the ham stock for the last 2 hours.