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BLACK EYES BRING LUCK TO THE NEW YEAR

On New Year's Day, the war between the states still rages at my dinner table. Because of my Southern roots, I simply must have a menu of pork, greens and above all, black-eyed peas. The good luck and prosperity of the entire year ahead depends on it.

However, my Northern-born husband has one serious shortcoming: He does not like to eat these particular foods. But since the good fortune of myself and my children are so closely tied to his, I see it as nothing short of duty to make sure that he eats an ample supply. Over the years, collard greens have given way to spinach, and I have managed to hide black-eyed peas in everything from dip to meat loaf.

Today's recipe for Hoppin' John Soup is my latest solution. With the assertive flavors of the chili-style tomatoes mingled with corn and rice, I suspect my husband will hardly notice the peas at all. The soup goes together with pantry ingredients that are easy to keep on hand, and the entire process takes only 20 minutes from start to finish. There's plenty of time to make five-minute rice if you don't happen to have any leftover rice on hand.

This year, the good luck comes even before you sit down to dinner with such an easy and flavorful soup.

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