I’ll be honest: completely and perfectly honest. Most of the recipes I come up with are fortuitous. I’ll be in the middle of making something from a recipe, and realize halfway through that I’m missing half the ingredients then just decide to go with the flow and make it into whatever it should become—and normally these times are when I make the best dishes. 

Making do with what you have is one thing, but being able to transform bits and pieces into a beautiful meal is truly a skill, and one I learned by watching a true master of the Southern kitchen-my mother. I have a box full of carefully written recipe cards she’s given me, and those are the ones I follow to a ’T,’ because I know they have been perfected—and you don’t mess with perfection. 

Since I now have my own home, I’ve started my own collection of hastily scribbled recipes on backs of receipts or shopping lists to go alongside those carefully written index cards gifted to me by my mother. Maybe one day I’ll go through those and carefully write them for someone near and dear to me as she did, and this recipe will most certainly be among them.

My approach in the kitchen is not quite as honed as my mother’s, but I know once I reach her level of skill, I’ll be less willy-nilly and more calculating. I started out wanting to make an Italian wedding soup of sorts, chock-full of quintessential Southern staples, like black-eyed peas and turnip greens, and it needed to pair well with a hot pan of freshly baked buttered cornbread. This soup surpassed my expectations, and earned this recipe a spot in the box. 

As I write this, it’s the coldest night of the year, but I’m snuggled up with a cozy blanket, a bowl of this soup, and a concoction most of us know as “wedding punch”—yes, the sherbet and ginger ale concoction you’ve probably marveled at for most of your life. I’ve included that recipe as a little bonus, so you can feel like you’re at a real celebration. I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do, and I hope it earns a place in your ‘box’ — Carry it with you and pass it down to those you love best.

Southern Wedding Soup

Ingredients:

1/2 package (1/2 lb.) of Conecuh sausage, sliced

1/2 onion, diced

1 pkg frozen black eyed peas

1 bunch young turnip greens 

1 32 oz package low sodium chicken broth

1 can low sodium great northern beans, rinsed

hot sauce & black pepper to taste

Cook sausage over medium heat until slightly browned; add diced onion and cook until tender. Add in frozen peas and about half of the chicken broth. Bring to a rolling boil; cook on high heat for about five minutes. In the mean time, add rinsed Great Northern Beans and boiling water to crock pot- turn on high. Mix in the soup mixture, and do not rinse the pan. Strip stems from turnips; discard the stems and wash the greens thoroughly. Finely chop or cut the greens with kitchen shears and sauté over medium heat with a little olive oil. Cook until tender, add hot sauce to taste— I used about a tablespoon. Add greens to crock pot along with the remaining chicken broth, and add black pepper to taste. Do not add salt! Cook on high for 1-2 hours or on low for 4-6 hours. Enjoy with a fresh pan of cornbread.

Wedding Punch

Ingredients:

(Single Serving)

1 Large Scoop Sherbet (Flavor of your choice)- I prefer lime

1/2 cup pineapple juice or lemonade (optional)

1 Cup Ginger Ale

1 Basil leaf, garnish

Add sherbet and pineapple juice to blender; blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and stir in ginger ale. It will be very foamy, so make sure to leave room! If you choose to make the punch without the pineapple juice or lemonade, you can scoop the sherbet into a glass and pour the ginger ale over and stir to blend— this is what I prefer!