Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hopping John Soup Recipe for Luck in the New Year (Black-Eyed Pea, Ham, and Collard Greens Soup)

Hopping John Soup
Hopping John Soup is my favorite thing to make for good luck in the New Year!

(This soup is one of my Recipe Favorites, updated with step-by-step photos January 2011)  For several years now I've been making this tasty soup with black-eyed peas, ham, and collard greens for good luck in the New Year, and this year when I made a double batch I remembered and took some step-by-step photos.  Not only does this soup have all the luck-bringing properties of Hopping John, it's also a South Beach Diet phase one recipe for those who are starting out the year with phase one, like I always do!  Hopping John is traditionally made on New Year's Day, but truly this tasty soup is great to make all during the cold months, whenever you need a little dose of good luck.

If you're not familiar with Hopping John, it's eaten throughout the southern U.S. on New Year's Day. The origin of the name Hopping John is uncertain, but it's thought to have come from the Creole French pronunciation of the pigeon peas used in the dish. Recipe variations for Hopping John abound, but all contain ham, black eyed peas, and collard greens, the peas representing coins and the collard greens representing dollar bills for financial luck in the new year. I took the Hopping John ingredients of black-eyed peas, ham, and collard greens and turned them into a soup a few years ago, and the recipe has been a hit ever since.

This is the photo from the original post of this recipe, when I used to make the dish with frozen black-eyed peas.  A few years ago I started having trouble finding the frozen ones and now I usually use canned black-eyed peas, which seem to be a little darker.  Sometimes I cook this soup a little longer now, which breaks up the beans more like they are in the top photo above.  But whichever type of beans you use, and whether you use the longer or shorter cooking time, this will be delicious!

Chop the onions and celery and then saute in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or just until they start to soften.  Then add minced garlic and saute about 2 minutes more.

While the onions saute chop the ham.  (If you ham has a rind, save it to add to the soup for more flavor.) After onions/celery/garlic mixture is done, add the chopped ham and saute over very low heat for about 10 minutes.

In a large soup pot, add the ham/onion/celery/garlic mixture, chicken stock, black-eyed peas, dried thyme, and ham rinds if you have them.  Let this cook at a low simmer for about an hour.  (These photos are a double batch of soup.)

While the soup simmers, cut away the thick inner rib of the collard greens, then coarsely chop the greens.

After soup has simmered for one hour, taste for flavor, adding some ham flavor base if needed and adding a little water if the soup seems too thick.  Add chopped collard greens to the soup and let simmer for about one hour more.

Here's how my soup looked after it simmered for an hour, with the collard greens and beans both very soft and starting to dissolve into the soup.

When the black-eyed peas are as sort as you'd like, remove the ham rind and then use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup, being careful not to overdo it if you want a soup with some chunkiness to it.  Add the red pepper flakes and vinegar and simmer 10 minutes more (or longer;  I sometimes cook it an hour or so longer at this point.)  Serve hot and enjoy the good luck!

Hopping John Soup (Black-eyed Pea, Ham, and Collard Green Soup)
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from The Gourmet Cookbook.)

1 onion, chopped in fairly small pieces
1 cup celery, chopped in fairly small pieces
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
2-3 cups diced ham (cut off the ham rind and save)
8 cups homemade chicken stock
(or use water with chicken soup base or canned chicken broth)
2 16 oz. packages frozen black-eyed peas
(or use 6 cups freshly cooked black-eyed peas or 4 cans black-eyed peas)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bunch fresh collard greens, chopped (about 2 cups when measured after chopping, but next time I would use more)
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, or more to taste
Optional: ham flavor base if needed (I like Goya Ham Flavor Concentrate if you can find it)

In large frying pan, saute onion and celery in olive oil about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes more, then add ham and saute over very low heat 10 minutes. (Don't skip this step, which concentrates the ham flavor into the vegetables.)

Transfer mixture to large soup pot, add chicken stock, black eyed peas, dried thyme, and ham rinds if available, and cook at very low simmer for one hour.

After soup has cooked one hour, taste for flavoring. Add more water and ham flavor base if needed. (It will depend on your ham, but I usually add a tiny bit. I added about 2 cups more water to the soup at this point.) Add chopped collard greens, stir into soup and simmer one hour more, or until black-eyed peas are quite soft.

When black-eyed peas are as soft as you want them, remove pieces of ham rind, then use an immersion blender, food processor, or hand masher to partially process about half the soup. You want a mixture of broken and unbroken black-eyes peas, with some thickening of the soup from the pureeing process. Be careful not to over process. Add red pepper flakes and vinegar and simmer 10 minutes more (or longer, I sometimes cook as much as an hour more at this point.) Serve hot.

South Beach Suggestions:
Black-eyed peas are considered a "good" carb on the South Beach Diet. If you wanted to reduce the carb count for the soup or be able to eat a larger serving for phase one, use more ham, celery, and collard greens in proportion to the other ingredients. This soup would be approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but limit serving sizes for phase one when dried beans are limited to 1/3 to 1/2 cup serving size.

Read More About Lucky Foods for New Year's:
Lucky Foods for New Year's (my post at
Black-Eyed Peas to Bring You Luck in the New Year (my post at

More Bloggers Make Black-Eyed Peas for New Year's Luck:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients)
Hopping John from Simply Recipes
Smoky Spiced Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon from Pinch My Salt
Lucky and Spicy Black-Eyed Peas Salad from Viet World Kitchen
Black-Eyed Pea and Chorizo Soup from Homesick Texan
Zannie's Black-Eyed Pea Dip from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
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  1. Wow Kalyn, it looks delicious! Thank you for joining us in the party! Feliz Año Nuevo! Love,

  2. Wishing you happy and fulfilling new year, Kalyn!

  3. Wishing you and your family a wonderful and safe NEW YEAR and may it bring you more lovely meals, friends, laughter, and so much more.The soup is looking lovely.

  4. Very filling, this looks like! I've never heard this name before. I think that everyone must have had a fun time at your party. Happy New Year!


  5. Melissa, Indira, Sailu and Paz, Happy New Year to all of you. Paz, the party was great. I'm lucky to have a lot of good friends.

  6. This soup looks so good, and so good for you! And I love the idea of a soup party.

    Very nice blog!

  7. Kayln,
    I discovered your blog recently and have been scoping out many recipes to make.
    I made this soup tonight (a little skeptical), but it is WONDERFUL!
    Thanks so much for posting,

  8. This is the start of new comments from December 2007 when I updated this recipe.

  9. I know Kalyn is not blogging right now but does anyone know if leftover HoneyBaked ham would work here (taking off the glazed crust of course)? And also can spinach or something else be substituted for the collard greens?

  10. I just brought home fresh black eyed peas for a party on Sunday. The soup looks wonderful. My mom always served black eyed peas on New Years Eve and Day!!

  11. Mrs. L., honeybaked ham wouldn't be good for South Beach, but otherwise there's no reason you couldn't use it in this recipe. I'm not sure about subbing spinach for collard greens, the flavor is quite different. Collard greens have a very mild, almost sweet flavor when they're cooked. Swiss chard would be a closer substitute, or cabbage would also be a good choice. If all you have is spinach, of course you could use it, but it would be a very different soup. Let me know if you try it that way.

  12. I have lurked for a long time but never posted. I started SB Diet yesterday, and can't tell you how much I enjoy your blog.

    Thank you so much for a ton of SB inspiration.

    It is a truly wonderful diet

  13. I love Hoppin' John. Thanks for the reminder! Have fun at your soup party.

    Sending warm wishes for a healthy, safe and creative New Year, Kalyn! xoxo

  14. my boyfriend's mother always seeks out black eyed peas on new years day -- i'll have to show her this soup!

  15. Hi Kalyn! I want to wish you and yours a very Happpy New Year with all the best in 2008 :)

  16. mmmmmmm thx for the good luck soup :) loooks goooot

    happy new yr :)

  17. Chigiy at Gardener’s Anonymous said:

    Oh, this time of year I crave soup all the time. It's raining here tonight and this soup looks soooo good.
    Happy New year.

  18. Thanks SO MUCH for this recipe and for creating this site!! I have a dear friend who lives in British Columbia. I will tell her about your site and send her this recipe! *Blessings*

  19. I went to Kalyn's party and tried some of the soup. Now I am not much for collard greens, but I did like the soup very much. Kalyn always has many wonderful choices of soup at this party---I loved all of them.
    Thanks Kalyn for letting us enjoy your cooking and your company.

  20. Hey Kalyn! I linked to your recipe in my Butternut Chili post. :)

  21. Great! I had no idea what to do with my leftovers! I hosted lunch for my in-laws today with the traditional southern NY Day items and her words were "you did very good for an European"...ehehehe!!!
    This soup is my list for tomorrow!

  22. I have enjoyed many your recipes, but thought the readers may want to know, this recipe does not adapt well to the slow cooker, which surprised me.

  23. Anonymous, I'm surprised. Was it that the peas and collards just disintegrated from being cooked too long?

  24. Thanks for helping me create a tradition. This is my second year of making this soup for New Year's Day. One tip: I don't like how green the soup turns from the pulverized collard greens when a portion is ground up by the immersion blender. So I do that step before adding the greens.

  25. Made this for dinner and it was delicious! Thank you!

  26. Anonymous, so happy that you're making this soup into a tradition I haven't noticed that mine gets that green (maybe I don't blend it as long) but good idea to blend before adding the collards if you want them more whole

    Christine, so glad you liked it

  27. Kalyn!!! I loved the Hopping John Soup, as well as the Black Bean one!!! Thank you so much for letting me get to know you this year, and for all your cooking tips, lessons, and good food to come in the new year.

    Happy New Year!


  28. Hi Rach, so glad you liked the soups! It's been fun getting to know you more too. And I will always be proud of my first cooking students! We'll cook a lot more good things in 2011!

  29. Absolutely loved the soup last night! I will definitely be making this one. Just made the anasazi bean one, but still needs to cook more tomorrow. Now I need to convert Kelly to liking bean soup more.

  30. Pam, so glad you liked the soups. Bean soups would be great for Kelly; full of slow-digesting carbs. I'll have to try to brainwash him on this topic, lol!

  31. gorgeous photo of the final product.
    i love soup and a i love beans, and now that jonas is eating meat (and then lost heaps of weight!) this looks perfect for us once the weather starts getting colder.

  32. Thanks Anna, and Happy New Year to you too!

  33. Kalyn: Great time at your Soup and Conversation party on New Years Day...quite a nice crowd, especially seeing old friends (from 15 years ago?)
    Your four soups were lip smacking delicious. I tasted the Hopping John soup first for good luck in 2011, and then the others. All were outstanding. Thanks again.

  34. Wanda, nice seeing you too. Glad you enjoyed the soups at the party. Yes, it was great to see Cheryl wasn't it.

  35. Last night I cooked and served the Hopping John, Collard greens blackeye pea soup with a side of your sweet potato corn bread which I made into muffins. The meal was delicious. My picky husband ate every bit and complimented me on the meal. It was a fantastic twist on traditional southern dishes. Your recipes ROCK!!

  36. So glad you liked it. (I don't have a recipe for sweet potato cornbread though; not sure where you got that one!)

  37. I an sorry, I wrote the Sweet Potato cornbread recipe in my recipe book and assumed it was one of your recipes but after your denial and tracing the recipe, it is from another source,

  38. No worries BCR, I just wanted to clarify in case another reader saw that comment and couldn't find the recipe.

  39. I made this soup today -- it was so delicouls. Thanks for sharing it. I've no doubt I'll make it again on another cold winter day.

  40. Mom-ster, so glad you liked it!

  41. Another year, another soup! Last year I was in our Natural Food store around NY, & was offered a cup of Hopping John soup - so this year I decided to make my own. Found your recipe, got cans of beans & some Kale from a local farmer at our Saturday Market!
    When my kids were young, we grew collards & kale, & found we liked the kale better, so let the chickens have the collards!! Herbalist Susun Weed suggests cooking kale close to an hour, to break down the cell walls & make the minerals more available, so this was perfect!
    I used the slow cooker, & kept to the recipe - I tend to make 'soups' with more veggies - so I'll probably add some roots tomorrow - & here in Oregon, we often have celery root in winter, which would be fun!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  42. --- & it's nice that it's naturally Gluten Free!

  43. Dia, so glad that you liked it. And I didn't think about this being gluten-free; I'm going to add it to my gluten-free index.!

  44. Would it work to replace the ham with diced pancetta in this recipe? And do the cooking times change if you use canned peas? Thanks!

  45. I haven't cooked with pancetta much, but I think it would work if it's not too fatty. If you're using canned black-eyed peas, you could probably cook it for a bit shorter time.

  46. I was surprised and delighted by how much I loved this soup since I was not a black-eyed peas fan before. Well, I've made this soup for New Year's 2 years in a row now and plan to make it a tradition. Can't wait to try more of your recipes!

    1. Carla, so glad you are enjoying it!


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