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”
Is it possible to cook dried black eyed peas in the soup (verses cooking them ahead of time)? Do you know how many cups of dried black eyed peas it takes to make 6 cups cooked. So many thanks for your wonderful recipes!!!
I wish I could help but I have only made this recipe with frozen or canned black-eyed peas, and in fact I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked black-eyed peas from the dried peas. I don’t know how many dried peas it would take to make six cups, but I bet you can find that info on Google. Glad you are enjoying the recipes!
Kalyn! This is such a tasty, filling recipe! I’ve made it twice in 2 weeks – first using the immersion blender and second not using it. Love it both ways. Also, I reduced the amount of ham to 1 cup because that’s all I had. So, so, so good. Thanks for all you do!
So happy to hear you are enjoying it. And think of all that good luck you’re getting!
I just printed that recipe just fine, no ads showing at all. So I don’t know what is causing that but I’ll have my designer check on it.
Pingback: The BEST Slow Cooker and Instant Pot Recipes with Black-Eyed Peas - Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
Pingback: The BEST Slow Cooker and Instant Pot Recipes with Black-Eyed Peas - Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
We here in the South are all big on our Collard Greens, Black-eyed peas and Ham (whether you use country ham, Smithfield ham or other) for New Year’s and count on their magic to bring us prosperity and a Good New Year when served on the 1st of January every year!! Add the cornbread and some personal family favorites and it is one awesome meal!! This recipe is a SOUP!! And it is a delicious one!! I made it first with my leftovers from New Year dinner!! It made it very east, as all the ingredients were precooked…easy, great use of leftovers!! Then to make the soup fresh from scratch—mmm , mmm even better!! It is not meant to be Hoppin’ John…it is a SOUP with some of same ingredients! It is not a side to serve with Ham and Collards, etc. as a side dish…it is a SOUP!! (with all those other ingredients already in it!!) If you actually read and follow carefully the recipe and the instructions, and eat it as a soup…it is quite lovely and nourishing and perfect!! Thank you, Kalyn….I am enjoying your recipes!! Keep ’em coming!!
Thanks Christine, glad you enjoyed it!
May I address your comment, Sarah? If I understand you, you are saying that it takes a lot longer to cook the beans than in this recipe. If so, please re-read the recipe! It says to use frozen beans, canned beans (which are cooked already) or ALREADY COOKED DRY BEANS!!! I am sure the “until they are soft” would refer to the frozen beans…don’t you think? Now, if you are saying they are already soft after being cooked before you start the soup, please note that they may cook to VERY SOFT, as you are going to blend a good 1/2 into a mushy soup and the rest just barely hold any shape. But even if you totally blended this soup, the flavor is delicious! If it was a “nightmare” and no good…please consider that you may have made a boo boo…We all do at some time…I wouldn’t come down so hard until I had re read and tried it again…or just move on to other recipes…this one just may not be for you!! Happy Cooking!!!
My Dad was from the South. We always had black eye peas. This want great!! Served with collards, cornbread, Smithfield ham.
So glad you enjoyed it!
Yummm!! When served as this soup, it definitely calls for a buttery cornbread!!
I’ve made this at least ten times for parties and always had good reviews, and if you look at the past comments you will see that many other people have made it and liked it too, so I have no idea why it didn’t work for you. Sorry you had that experience.
Made this today, and it was delicious, but definitely not as thick a soup as this picture shows–and I used less chicken broth.
But, woul dmake it again becasue it was so tasty. I can’t believe the ham flavor I got without any bone. Yummy!
Glad you enjoyed it.
awesome, have been looking for some good black eyed pea recipes for NY Day, thank you for this and like the collard greens too!
This soup is delish – made mine yesterday to be ready for the new year. My parents always cooked BEPs, collards, pigs feet, and chitterlings as the soul foods to promise a prosperous and lucky new year but the peas and greens are the main stars. I’ll make this soup every year – Happy 2018!
Actually, my mother and grandmother said this dish was started by slaves in the southern U.S. As a child, we ate this every New Year’s Day.
I usually make pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes as our good luck New Year's Day meal but I'm switching it up this year. I'll be making this on 1/1/2016!
Hope you enjoy Heather!
This is a hearty and very delicious dish. I wanted to stretch it a bit, so I opted to use half the ham and half the beans, but the rest unchanged. Really tasty and filling. I'll make it often – thanks and happy new year!
Thanks Ann, so glad you enjoyed it!
Thanks you so very much for responding on this holiday!! Happy NY.
You're welcome! I'm not always that fast but sometimes I'm just sitting at the computer!
I ended up with fresh black-eyed peas. Their package says to cook 2 hours, but this seems so long prior to putting in soup where they will cook another 2 hours.
Diana, I haven't used the fresh ones but I'd just keep testing them as they cook and when they're starting to soften I think you could proceed with the soup. The frozen peas are not that well-cooked.
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!
Carla, so glad you are enjoying it!
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.
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!