I grew up in Southeast Georgia, and our tradition for good luck for the New Year was eating Hoppin’ John. To us, Hoppin’ John was a big pot of dried black-eyed peas cooked with hog jowl or ham shank. I don’t think we ever missed eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. I have continued the tradition, but have had to dress up the black-eyed peas a bit so that my husband will eat them. I make soup out of a mixture of dried beans and dried black-eyed peas. It has been a hit with my husband and we eat it every New Year’s Day for good luck for the coming year. In fact, I like to give bags of Good Luck Soup starter (dried blackeyed peas and dried heirloom Rancho Gordo beans), along with fresh herbs and the soup recipe, as gifts for the holiday season.
I like to serve this soup with homemade cole slaw and a slab of crusty bread.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups assorted dried beans (your favorites) and black-eyed peas
1 roasted red pepper, peeled and chopped
6 cups stock or water (may need more – see note below)
1 cup chopped ham, hog jowl or a ham shank
1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes (I use aleppo chili.)
2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes, such as Pomi
1 Tablespoon of fresh sage or thyme, plus more for garnish
You will also need:
Large Dutch oven or soup pot with lid
Saute the onion, celery and carrots in olive oil over medium-low heat until they are translucent. Add the chopped garlic and saute for 30 seconds longer. Add the beans/peas, the roasted red pepper, the stock/water, the ham and the pepper flakes to the pot. Bring to a boil.
Then cover, reduce the heat and cook for about two hours until the beans and peas start to soften. Note that you will need to check the liquid in the pot about every 15 minutes. Depending upon the beans used and the cooking time needed, you may need to add more water or stock.
When the beans have started to soften, add the tomatoes and chopped herbs and cook until the beans and peas are completely soft (about 30 minutes more). Add sea salt and pepper, to taste.
Serves 4 people.