Watercress provides a peppery finish to this down-home combination of bacon, black-eyed peas, and corn bread. Look for corn bread muffins or loaves in the bakery section or frozen bread section of your supermarket, or use leftovers you've saved.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Arrange corn bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon to pan; cook 5 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Set bacon aside. Add onion and garlic to drippings; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in peas and next 5 ingredients (through pepper); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until beans are very tender.
Place half of bean mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining bean mixture. Ladle about 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons watercress, 2 1/2 tablespoons croutons, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons bacon.