Southern Hoppin’ John and Greens Soup


As much as fried chicken tries to steal the show, Southern food is really all about the side dishes. Think about your last trip to a country dive–sure the catfish was good, but how ’bout those green beans, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and pickled beets?

A pot of hoppin’ John (blackeyed peas and rice), and melted greens with pepper sauce and cornbread are two of my favorite meals on earth. This soup combines them into a meal perfect for New Year’s Day (or ya know, a rainy Fall Sunday like today). Plus it’s ridiculously easy, comes together in less than an hour, and totally made up of freezer staples. Get on this like, now.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 package of frozen blackeyed peas
  • 1 package of frozen turnip greens (collards are fine too. My frozen turnip greens had cubed turnips in them, which is totally cool. If you want to use fresh greens, finely julienne Swiss chard, kale, or mustard greens. Spinach will be too mushy)
  • One smoked turkey wing (a ham hock, a diced link of andouille sausage, or 5 diced strips of bacon would work too! Or you could make this a veggie dish and skip the meat–just add some cumin to mimic the deep smokey flavor)
  • A small onion, diced
  • 2 small or one large carrot, diced
  • A stalk of celery, diced
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning
  • Cooking oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • A small splash of vinegar–red, apple cider, or white is fine
  • A dash of Louisiana hot sauce (optional)
  • Garnishes: cooked white rice, cornbread, hot pepper vinegar, raw sliced sweet onions

Method

  1. Toss the diced onions, carrots, and celery into a large soup pot with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Let the veggies sweat and soften for 7-8 minutes. Add in the meat element and let brown for 3-5 minutes more. Toss in the chicken broth, Cajun seasoning, and black eyed peas and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  2. After 20 minutes has passed, add in the greens and continue to cook for 20 more minutes. Stir in the splash of vinegar and a few shakes of hot sauce. Taste and add salt if needed. If you used a turkey or ham bone, remove the bone and pick the meat from it, then add the meat back to the soup.
  3. Serve the beans, greens, and “pot likker” broth over white rice with plenty of hot pepper vinegar. Or be like me and break up cornbread right on top, and alternate spoonfuls with bites of a fresh slice of onion. Pure southern comfort.

Remix The Dish: there’s obviously a ton of flexibility in this soup, with the variety of greens and meat you can use. The beans and greens would also taste awesome drained over a bed of polenta, or drained and stir fried into a hash with a sunny egg on top.

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