I first made Hoppin’ John soup for New Year’s Day last year. Southern tradition says eating black-eyed peas and greens will bring you luck in the coming year. 2011 was a pretty good year, so I’m a believer. I was going to make it again for New Year’s Day this year, but when the day came, we had a refrigerator full of food. I wasn’t about to add a big pot of soup to it.
It only took a few days for the frig to start looking normal again — we’re good at leftovers. Since it was freezing outside on Tuesday, it was the perfect night for soup. Plus I had a ham bone that I stole from Starr, our elderly border collie. Ok, I snatched it out of Jim’s hands before he gave it to Starr. Before I came along, Starr always got the ham bone, but now he has to make do with ham juice and scraps.
I used kale for the soup instead of collards because the collards in the store didn’t look so great. I bet if I had gone to a farm stand I would have had better collard luck. The original recipe called only for water, but I supplemented the water with some leftover chicken broth. You can cut back on the liquid if you want the soup to be thicker. I also added extra jalapeno and garlic, a green bell pepper, and some thyme and paprika.
We’re both fat from the holidays so I didn’t make any cornbread to go alongside the soup. If you haven’t seriously overindulged in pies, cookies, eggnog, cheese, snacks and huge meals, make some cornbread. We both sprinkled some Texas Pete on our soup. Despite the two jalapenos, it really wasn’t that hot, maybe because I removed the seeds and ribs, cutting down on the capsaicin.
I know New Year’s has passed, but this is a great soup for any cold night. We’ll enjoy it again tonight!
Hoppin’ John Soup
You’ll need two large Dutch ovens or large pots (6 and 12 quart capacity). Serves about 8-10 people, depending on appetite and whether you make cornbread.
- 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
- 1 ham bone (or smoked ham bone or hocks)
- 1⁄4 cup canola oil
- 1⁄2 cup chopped cooked ham, either from your bone or elsewhere
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound kale (or collard greens), ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped
- 5 cups of chicken broth and 7 cups of water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 5-6 cups cooked long-grain white rice
Bring peas, ham bone and 8 cups water to a boil in a pot (the smaller of the two). Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, skimming foam occasionally, until peas are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain peas, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid along with the ham bone; set aside.
Heat oil in the larger pot over medium-high heat. Add ham, garlic, jalapeños, carrot, onion, green bell pepper, celery, thyme, paprika and bay leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add reserved black-eyed peas, ham bone and reserved cooking liquid, along with kale, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until kale or collards are tender, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon rice into bowls and ladle soup over rice.
Original recipe: Hoppin’ John Soup, Saveur