This glorious soup serves a crowd, or half can be frozen for another time. Fresh and frozen white acre or other field peas, such as small crowder or black eyes, are best in this recipe.
1/4 pound bacon or fatback, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups chicken stock or broth
1 pound small field peas, fresh, frozen or dried (see cook’s note)
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or oregano
2 cups collard, turnip greens, spinach or kale
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cook’s note: If using dried peas, soak and pre-cook.
Fry the bacon or fatback in a large skillet; drain and set aside. Heat the butter in a large pot. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic, stock and peas, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. When the peas begin to soften, add herbs.
After washing thoroughly, remove any stems and tough leaves from the greens; roll the greens into a cylinder shape and slice them into thin strips. Smash some of the peas against the side of the pot to thicken the soup, and add the greens. Continue cooking 5 minutes to wilt the greens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. May be made ahead several days and refrigerated. If freezing, omit the greens until reheating.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 14 cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.