Hoppin’ John Soup

img_0528RECIPE #385, DAY #563

FOUR STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Hoppin’ John Soup” from Bert Greene in Bert Greene’s Kitchen*

TIMING: 2 hours (unless you use canned beans)

DIFFICULTY: Fairly easy

TOOLS: A soup pot, ladle, and other standard kitchen things

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: Yes, there are 2 types of cured pork in this soup, but I would consider it healthy. With lots of fiber, grain, protein, vitamins, nutrients, beans, greens, aromatics, herbs, brown rice… There is a lot of goodness in that pot.

EXPERIENCE: I was told, at some point long ago, that Southerners eat Hoppin’ John on New Years Day, for luck in the new year. Although I am not a superstitious person, I love traditions, so when I implanted into North Carolina I immediately started making this for every new year. Even when we visit New York for the New Year, I scour the stores for things that resemble black eyes peas, ham side, and collards…

Or maybe not. I am actually allergic to collards, so I use kale. And I also have adopted a recipe that uses ham and bacon instead of other, earthier pieces of pork, just because I like the recipe the best. Oh, and this is supposed to be a beans and rice dish, not a soup. Oh well. I still make everyone in my family take at least a few tablespoons of this soup on New Years Day.

NOTES: I maybe should give this recipe three stars, but it is the best of the bunch that I have tried, so I use it year after year. Every other version I have tried is hopelessly bland and often gummy.

If you can not find dried black eyed peas, you can use 2 cans. You will want to cook a whole lot less to avoid mooshy beans, and you will want to replace the water with more chicken or vegetable stock or broth.

If you can find a ham bone, you should add it with the stock.

***

  1. In a soup pot, saute 5 pieces of bacon cut into lardons. Set the bacon aside and leave the fat in the pot.
  2. To the pot, add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Melt over medium heat and add 1 diced onion. Cook until beginning to color and add 1 pressed clove garlic. Stir for 30 seconds and add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 pound dried black eyed peas, 1 teaspoon minced sage, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 quart chicken stock, 3 cups water, and 2 cups apple cider. Cover (leave a crack) and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Add 1/2 cup brown rice, cover (with a crack) again, and simmer 30 more minutes. Check peas for doneness. You may need to add more stock or water during the simmering, to keep it a soup.
  4. Add 1 bunch chopped kale and 8 ounces diced Virginia ham. Cook about 10 minutes, until kale is tender.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in 1 zested and juiced lemon, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon minced parsley. Taste for seasonings.
  6. Serve with minced chives and the crumbled bacon on top of each bowl.

***

Serve with corn bread and cider. Go with sparkling cider if you want to toast the New Year.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: This will keep in the fridge for maybe 3 days. If you want to eat it as its original soup, thin it with some stock or water and heat, then taste for seasonings. Make the cornbread into sage croutons, top, and serve.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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