Hoppin’ John for Good Luck: #SundaySupper

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Hoppin’ John, a traditional southern black-eyed pea stew with collard greens for a lucky New Year.

vegetarian Hoppin' John a traditional New Years Day dish for good luck

This week, Constance at The Foodie Army Wife blog hosts our New Year’s themed #SundaySupper, as we share recipes that are either reflections of our past year or ‘resolution’ recipes for the next. A ‘resolution’ recipe can be a commitment to cook healthier, or to try new things. My resolution is to become a little less wimpy on the vegetarian path I’ve chosen. So I chose a vegetarian dish loaded with protein and nutrition. Even better, it promises good luck for the year ahead.

If you travel through the South on New Year’s Day, you may find black-eyed peas on the breakfast table. If you do, be sure to take a big helping for good luck. According to Southern folklore, if these legumes are the first thing you eat in the New Year, you will have luck and prosperity throughout the year.

Both of my parents grew up in Alabama, but this tradition was news to me. I did some research and it seems the black-eyed peas’ association with luck dates back to the Civil War. This was a big crop in the South, first planted as food for livestock and later as a food staple for slaves. When Sherman swept through, his soldiers destroyed and stole all crops, but left black-eyed peas behind. Survivors subsisted on this nourishing food, and would likely have perished without it.

Truthfully, even without this backstory, legumes are considered lucky because of their resemblance to coins. But black-eyed peas aren’t the only reason this Hoppin’ John dish, a traditional black-eyed pea and pork stew served over rice, may be the luckiest thing you make all year. First, the rice, which represents abundance for obvious reasons. Next, the collard greens; greens represents paper money or folded bills. If you include pork in your portion, like my husband, you get an extra dose of luck since pigs root forward, and are rotund. And not taking any chances with 2014, I took the added precaution of making some cornbread, which represents the wealth of gold.

So if you’re interested in having a lucky 2014, have this dish on New Year’s Day. Ideally for breakfast, if you listen to Southern tradition, so feel free to add a fried egg on top.

I hope you all have a very lucky 2014.

Cooking Notes:

Black-eyed peas and black-eyed beans are the same legume.

The dried chipotle pepper ingredient adds a distinctive smokiness to the stew, and is a great flavor substitute for the pork.

This dish can easily be made vegan by eliminating the cheddar cheese, or substituting vegan cheese.

For a strictly vegetarian stew, be sure to use cheddar cheese made with a vegetable rennet. Several are now available, and worth checking out. Rennet is used to coagulate (thicken) milk during the cheesemaking process so that curds form. Animal rennet comes from enzymes extracted from the stomach lining of a calf, ewe or kid (baby goat), something I was recently made aware of thanks to one of my readers here. Thanks Juls! Whole Foods is a great place, but not the only place, to look for alternatives that use vegetable rennet.

Wimpy Tips:

I left the pork out of my vegetarian portion. But for Myles, the Carnivorous Maximus, I chopped up six or seven pieces of pancetta and fried them up. I divided the soup in half, and added his half to the bacon. A better option for omnivores is adding a smoked ham hock to the beans as they cook.

Hoppin' John for Good Luck: #SundaySupper

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 4

  • 32 ounces vegetable broth
  • 1 dried chipotle pepper
  • 1 ½ cups dried black-eyed peas or beans
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ cup diced carrots
  • 1 red pepper, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 celery stalks, including any leaves (about ½ cup)
  • 1 Serrano pepper, seeded, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • ½ tsp Hungarian paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp celery salt
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups stemmed and sliced collard greens
  • ¼ cup thinly slices scallions
  • ¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups of cooked rice
  • Cornbread
  1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a large heavy pot. Add the dried chipotle pepper and black-eyed beans. Cover and simmer on low until the beans are tender, about 3 hours.
  2. While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion slices, carrots, red pepper, celery, and Serrano, and sauté for 20 minutes, or until the onion begins to lightly brown. Add the garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetables to the soup pot, and stir into the beans. Add the vinegar to the sauté pan and scrape up any cooked bits. Add to the soup pot.
  4. Add the thyme, mustard and all of the spices except the salt. Simmer until beans are very tender. Add the salt.
  5. Ladle the soup out into bowls, and top each bowl with one tablespoon scallions and one tablespoon cheddar cheese
  6. Serve over rice with a side of cornbread.

Join us this weekend for Reflections and Resolutions!


Appetizers & Snacks

Main Dishes & Sides

Desserts & Drinks

Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our#SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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  1. says

    I have a ham bone in the freezer…and Hoppin’ John would be a great dish for New Year’s since comfort food is needed with the chilly temps. Wishing you a Happy New Year, Susan!

  2. TerriSue says

    I always make Hoppin’ John on New Years Day. I have always made it with spinach instead of collard greens. I was wondering because I have always wanted to know…..in all of your research did you find out the origin of the name? Or perhaps one of your readers know and could enlighten us. I do now know why we have never had prosperous years, lol. I didn’t know it was supposed to be the first thing you ate on NYD. We have always had it for dinner. I grew up in Kansas, and my husband grew up in several cities across the mid-west. It wasn’t until we became vegetarians shortly after we married 33 years ago that I heard of Hoppin’ John. Thus a new family tradition was born in our little family. After reading through your recipe, I think our old recipe is about to be discarded, and your recipe will now be on the table every January 1st.

    • says

      Thank you so much TerriSue! And see, now we know it should be eaten for breakfast :-). Seriously not sure it’s going to be breakfast here, but surely later in the day is fine too LOL. You’ve made me curious about the name now and I’m going to research. I’ve got some ideas around it, but I really don’t know for sure. I’ll report back if I find anything out :-) Thanks for stopping by, and a very Happy New Year to you and your family!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Hoppin’ John for Good Luck: #SundaySupperMy Profile

  3. says

    We love black eyed peas and I also make them for New Year’s Day. Actually I may have made Hoppin’ John before on regular days as well because we just love black eyed peas.

    Your recipe sounds delicious and the suggestion to use chipotle instead of pork is perfect.

    I would like to wish you and your family a Happy, Healthy, and Successful 2014!
    Bea recently posted..New Year’s Brezel {#Dairyfree} for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  4. says

    This looks so delicious Susan, gorgeous photo too! I’ve never really eaten black eyed beans, they’re not very readily available here in Australia. I’d love to try this dish though, possibly with some other kind of bean substitute? Do you think borlotti beans would work? Lovely recipe, thanks for the cooking notes and the recollections too :) I had no idea that beans/legumes and rice were auspicious in the new year! Happy New Year… only a couple of days to go! xx
    laurasmess recently posted..Fresh Egg Noodles with Coriander, Chilli and Toasted Peanuts (with Hippy Vic)My Profile

  5. says

    Hubby and I have decided to go back to our old habits of only having meat a few times a month so I have been looking for some new vegetarian recipes to add to our menu. These beans look fantastic.

  6. Tom Salamone says

    Susan: I am a new cook and do not understand why so many cooking sites have recipes that start with dried beans that take hours to cook versus beans out of a can. Perhaps I should try the dried route to see for myself, but first thought to ask – why dry versus cane? I do look for vegetarian sites as our daughter and grandson are vegetarians and I love to cook for my little 4 year old buddy. Thank you for your consideration. Tom

    • says

      You raise a great question, Tom. No question canned beans are more convenient to use. And canned beans have the same vitamins and nutrition benefits as dried. But they also have some disadvantages, and cooking beans from dried have a couple of extra benefits:

      (1) Canned beans typically have a high sodium content for preservation;

      (2) There is strong evidence that the bisphenal A (BPA) in the plastic lining of cans contributes to certain cancers and insulin resistance;

      (3) Dried beans are much cheaper (by nearly 50% in many cases);

      (4) I think the texture and especially the flavor is far better with dried;

      (5) dried beans have a longer shelf life – up to 10 years.

      So here’s what I do: I make the beans ahead and keep a stash in the refrigerator and in the freezer in ziplock freezer bags. And luckily not all beans take a looooong time to cook. For example, lentils only take 25 minutes. So if I don’t have a stash, I can just cook up some lentils.

      Hope this helps, Tom! I’m really glad you asked this question!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Sweet Endings: Chocolatey Chocolate BrowniesMy Profile

  7. Tom Salamone says

    Susan: Very kind of you to reply to my question, in particular so completely. Sodium and BPA alone will now keep me from using canned foods as often as possible. Thank you and take care, Tom

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