Happy New Year! I’m so happy to have 2020 behind us and wishing 2021 brings us all lots of vaccines, good health and good meals gathered around a big table together. But until we can get back to visiting with each other, here are some nourishing meals to make for yourself.

Sweet Potato, Kale and Black-Eyed Peas Soup

This recipe comes from “Soul Food Love” by mother-daughter team Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams, adapted by the Washington Post and then further adapted in our kitchen. “Soul Food Love” is a great compendium of healthy recipes. This soup is brimming with nutrients and features the black-eyed peas obligatory on many New Year’s Day tables

Yield: 12 cups

Sweet Potato Broth:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • ½ cup sliced celery and 2 cups sliced celery root OR 4 cups sliced celery
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoons ground black pepper

In a stockpot, heat oil. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook for 10 minutes over medium high heat until vegetables soften, stirring from time to time.

Add 8 cups water, the sweet potatoes, star anise, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender,

Puree in blender or with an immersion blender.

  • For the Soup:
  • ¼ pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cups carrots, cut in ½” dice
  • ½ cup celery, cut in ½” dice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped canned tomatoes with their juice
  • 8 cup stemless kale leaves, cut in ribbons
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Local ingredients: onion, carrot, sweet potato, garlic, kale

Put overnight soaked and drained peas in a saucepan with water to cover amply and cook over medium heat until tender. Drain and reserve.

In a stockpot, heat oil. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook for 10 minutes over medium high heat until vegetables soften, stirring from time to time. Stir in garlic and cook a minute longer. Add thyme, pepper flakes, canned tomatoes, kale and sweet potato broth. Cook at a simmer for 20 minutes or so, until kale is tender. Add black eyed peas and simmer 10 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper flakes as needed.

Italian Vegetable Soup with Chicken and Sausage

This soup strikes just the right spot — cozy and hearty and filling but not rich. It’s full of vegetables and you can use whatever is on hand, so it is a good one to make when you are cleaning out your refrigerator. I think you will love it too!

Yield: 12 cups

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ pound Italian sausage
  • 1 ½ cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, cut in medium dice
  • ¾ cup celery, cut in medium dice
  • 1 cup zucchini, cut in medium dice
  • ½ cup butternut squash, cut in medium dice
  • ½ cup red or green peppers, cut in medium dice
  • ½ cup rutabaga, cut in medium dice
  • ½ cup cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup canned tomatoes with their juice, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green cabbage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon salt
  • Good grinding of black pepper
  • 9 cups homemade chicken broth
  • ¼ cup orzo
  • 1 1/2 cups potatoes, cut in medium dice
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut in medium pieces

Local ingredients: sausage, onion, garlic, butternut squash, rutabaga, cabbage, chicken broth

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil. Cook sausage in oil until brown. Remove, let cool and cut into small pieces. Reserve.

To oil remaining in pot, add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, zucchini, butternut squash, rutabaga and cauliflower. Sweat vegetables over medium heat until fragrant, about five minutes, stirring from time to time. Add tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add potatoes and orzo and cook 10 minutes longer. Add chicken and cut up sausage. Return to boil and adjust seasoning.

Gigante Beans

My New York City-based younger sister is spending lots of time hunkered down on our farm during COVID. And this is her recipe. The beans are great as a hot side dish and equally delicious at room temperature as part of a big hors d’oeuvres spread.  Particularly great with hunks of high quality feta. Find gigantes at Kalustyan’s online (www.kalustyans.com) if nowhere else or substitute other white beans.

Yield: 8 cups

  • 1 pound dried gigantes beans (soaked overnight with salt and drained)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup carrot, cut in ¼” dice
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
  •      OR 2 cups canned tomatoes, cut in ⅓” pieces, with their juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place overnight soaked and drained beans in medium size pot, and cover with ample water and a bit of salt. Bring to boil over high heat, then lower heat and boil gently, removing and discarding any scum that rises to the surface, until beans are just tender, about one hour. Drain.  

While the beans cook, heat olive oil in large ovenproof pot and cook onion and carrot over medium heat until onions begin to brown. Add garlic and cook a bit longer. Add tomatoes, ½ cup water, sugar, oregano, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and good grinding of pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add beans to vegetable mixture and mix well. Bake uncovered for about an hour until liquid is much reduced, stirring once or twice.

Mix in chopped dill and lemon juice, adjust seasoning, and serve hot or at room temperature.