Hopping John Soup
Hopping John Soup has black-eyed peas, ham, and collard greens, and this is my favorite dish to make for luck in the New Year!
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For years I’ve been making this tasty Hopping John Soup for good luck in the New Year, and if you’re willing to eat a few carbs to get good luck, I highly recommend this soup! It has all the luck-bringing properties of the traditional dish of Hopping John that’s made on New Year’s Day, but go ahead and make it early if you want to get started on the luck.
If you’re not familiar with Hopping John, it’s eaten throughout the southern U.S. on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. The origin of the name is uncertain, but it’s thought to have come from the Creole French pronunciation of the pigeon peas used in the dish.
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 something I’ve made for New Year’s luck ever since, and I’m picking it as my Friday Favorites pick for the last Friday of 2022 in hopes you’ll make it and get some good lucky; Happy New Year everyone!
What ingredients do you need for this recipe?
- Olive Oil (affiliate link)
- Minced Garlic (affiliate link)
- diced ham
- homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- frozen black-eyed peas
- Dried Thyme (affiliate link)
- fresh collard greens
- red pepper flakes, optional
- apple cider vinegar (affiliate link)
- Goya Ham Flavor Concentrate (affiliate link), or another type of ham flavor base
What is the symbolism of the Hopping John ingredients?
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.
What are Black-Eyed Peas?
Black-Eyed peas are legumes that are grown around the world. Here’s more about this tasty ingredient that are sometimes called Black-Eyed Beans. In the United States they are often made into a southern dish called Hopping John.
How can you make Hopping John Soup lower in carbs?
If you want good luck but don’t want so many carbs, you can definitely make this soup with more ham and collards and fewer black-eyed peas.
Want more ideas for Black-Eyed Peas?
Check out all the Lucky Black-Eyed Peas Recipes on the blog if you want to get even more good luck! Or check out Slow Cooker and Instant Pot Black-Eyed Peas Recipes on my Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker site for more lucky food ideas to celebrate the new year!
How to Make Hopping John Soup:
(Scroll down for complete printable recipe with nutritional information.)
- Chop the onions and celery and cook them just until they start to soften, adding garlic the last few minutes. While the onions cook, 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 (or if you have Homemade Ham Stock I would definitely use that for this recipe), 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 (affiliate link) 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. When the black-eyed peas are as soft 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!
More Black-Eyed Peas for New Year’s:
- Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
- Black-Eyed Pea Soup
- Black-Eyed Pea Salad
- Black Bean Salad with Black-Eyed Peas
Hopping John Soup
Hopping John Soup is a tasty soup recipe with ingredients that are supposed to bring luck in the new year!
- 1 small onion, chopped in fairly small pieces
- 1 cup celery, chopped in fairly small pieces
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 3 cups diced ham (cut off the ham rind and save; you can get by with a bit less ham if needed)
- 8 cups homemade chicken stock (see notes)
- 2 16 oz. packages frozen black-eyed peas (see notes)
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 bunch fresh collard greens, chopped (see notes)
- pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 T apple cider vinegar, or more to taste
- Optional: ham flavor base
- In large frying pan, saute onion and celery in olive oil about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add garlic and cook about 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.
If you don't have homemade chicken stock you can use water with Better than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base (affiliate link) or canned chicken broth (affiliate link) instead. I also like to use Goya Ham Flavor Concentrate (affiliate link) for more ham flavor. (Or if you have Homemade Ham Stock I would definitely use that for this recipe, in which case you won't need the ham flavor base!)
You can also use 6 cups freshly cooked black-eyed peas or 4 cans black-eyed peas to make this soup. One bunch of collard greens is about 2 cups when measured after chopping, but next time I would use more.
This recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from The Gourmet Cookbook.)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 342Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 1023mgCarbohydrates: 28.5gFiber: 9gSugar: 9gProtein: 31g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Black-eyed peas are not low in carbs, but if you want to reduce the carb count for the soup use more ham, celery, and collard greens in proportion to the other ingredients. However, even with that lower-carb version if you’re strictly limiting carbs you’ll have to miss out on the black-eyed pea luck! This Hopping John Soup would be approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but limit serving sizes for phase one.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Soup Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
79 Comments on “Hopping John Soup”
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.!
— & it's nice that it's naturally Gluten Free!
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!
Mom-ster, so glad you liked it!
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.
So glad you liked it. (I don't have a recipe for sweet potato cornbread though; not sure where you got that one!)
Wanda, nice seeing you too. Glad you enjoyed the soups at the party. Yes, it was great to see Cheryl wasn't it.
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.
Thanks Anna, and Happy New Year to you too!
oh and happy new year!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
Made this for dinner and it was delicious! Thank you!
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.
Anonymous, I’m surprised. Was it that the peas and collards just disintegrated from being cooked too long?
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.