Hoppin John

Recipe: Hoppin John Soup for New Year’s Eve

Cary, NC – Hoppin’ John is a traditional Southern dish during New Year’s Eve, as if Southerns need an excuse to eat black eyed peas and rice. With the cold weather coming in, here’s a recipe for a warm Hoppin’ John soup to heat you up while celebrating the start of 2018.

Why The Tradition?

The ingredients in Hoppin’ John will be familiar to anyone who eats Southern food: rice, black eyed peas, collard greens and sausage and/or ham hocks. This comes from a mix of West African culinary traditions mixed with the cuts of meat seen as less-desirable being fed to enslaved people and the food eaten in the cultural exchange between South Carolina and the Caribbean.

How Hoppin’ John came to be associated with New Year’s Eve specifically is less clear. But like the good luck traditions associated with Chinese New Year, Hoppin’ John is typically thought of as a way to ensure the next year brings fortune. The beans and peas are meant to represent coins and the vegetables are paper cash, with cornbread often paired with the dish to represent gold. Uses of the term “Hoppin’ John” to describe this dish are found as early as the 19th Century.

Other countries involved in the Transatlantic slave trade have similar Hoppin’ John traditions, though they substitute black eyed peas with Cuban black beans, Peruvian tacu-tacu or in the case of Brazil’s baião-de-dois, several other seasonings are used with black eyed peas that are not used in American Hoppin’ John.

Hoppin John

Recipe for Hoppin’ John Soup

With our increasingly chilly Winter weather, this is a recipe for a Hoppin’ John soup that will keep you warm.

This recipe serves six to eight people.


  • Two cups black eyed peas
  • Eight cups chicken broth
  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • One large rib celery, finely minced
  • One large carrot, diced
  • Four cloves of garlic, minced
  • Three-quarters of a pound of collard greens, rib removed and sliced
  • Two tablespoons of canola oil
  • One-half teaspoon of dried thyme
  • One tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • Two bay leaves

If you want to include meat, you can include one smoked ham hock and one half-pound of ham cut into cubes.

First, soak the black eyed peas in a large bowl with three inches of cold water. Keep them soaked for eight hours or overnight and make sure you drain and rinse them well.

Heat the oil in a pot and sauté the onions, celery and garlic for about five to eight minutes; look for them becoming soft and translucent. Then, add the broth, along with the carrots, black eyed peas, thyme, bay leaves, collard greens and the ham hocks if you are including them. Heat to a boil and skim off any foam. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer and partially cover the pot for around an hour or until the vegetables and black eyed peas are tender.

Then, remove the bay leaves and the ham hocks. If you are using ham hocks, at this point, strip the meat from the bone, dice it and return it to the pot. Add in the other diced ham and heat just until it is warmed through. Now add the vinegar and salt and pepper to season. If you are not including meat, add vinegar as soon as the simmering portion is done.

The dish pairs well with cornbread and hot sauce.

Story by staff reports. Photos by urbanfoodie33.