Nashville Flair

black-eyed peas in wooden bowl on wooden background
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I'm a Midwestern girl at heart, but three years ago I moved to Nashville for my dietetic internship at Vanderbilt. And what an experience it has been to learn about a new culture and cuisine! While Southern cuisine varies greatly from region to region, here in Nashville we eat what most of America thinks of as "traditional" Southern foods: cornbread fritters, turnip greens, fried okra, grits, hot chicken (Nashville hosts the Music City Hot Chicken festival every year!), pinto beans, black-eyed peas…I could go on and on. As many of us know, these much-loved Southern dishes are not always prepared in the healthiest manner. But as a lover of all foods and a believer in moderation of diet, I welcome Southern flavors and ingredients into my dishes.

The downtown Nashville Farmer's Market is my source for all things local and in season. Greens are currently in season and are a great addition to soups. Packed with vitamins A, C, and K and fiber, collard greens are my favorite greens in this soup, but kale, spinach, or mustard greens would work as well.

Preparing dry beans was a new process for me, but for most Southerners dry beans are the only suitable option.  I love canned beans for their convenience, but nutritionally, dry beans are the better option because they are lower in sodium and contain fewer preservatives. If you must use canned beans, just be sure to rinse well before using. This can reduce the sodium content by up to 40 percent!

So if you're looking for some Southern flair and flavor, make a meal out of this soup and some homemade cornbread.  Y'all enjoy!

Southern Collards and Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Recipe by Karman Meyer, RD, LDN

2/3 cup dry black-eyed peas
2 cups cold water
3 slices low-sodium bacon, diced in ¼-inch pieces
1 cup onions, chopped
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
8 cups collard greens, roughly chopped
5 medium-sized red potatoes, diced ½-inch
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
Black pepper


  1. Add dried beans to a heavy metal stock pot or saucepan. Add cold water to beans, bring to a boil, and then remove pot from heat. Let sit for 2 hours covered.
  2. Drain water from beans, and then add fresh water to cook beans. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot, add onions and bacon. Saute for five to six minutes over medium-high heat.
  4. Add chili powder, garlic powder, vegetable broth, water and collard greens to stockpot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add potatoes, diced tomatoes and black pepper and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
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Karman Meyer
Karman Meyer is an RDN based in Nashville. Teaching people easy ways to implement healthy changes into their lifestyle is her passion! Karman blogs at The Nutrition Adventure and is an experienced recipe developer, nutrition writer and public speaker. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook!

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