It is week 6 of the Sunday Slow Soupers ~ a group of Slow Travel members cooking soup and blogging together every Sunday. This week's soup is Hoppin' John Soup selected by Slow Travel member Shannon
Shannon found this great recipe for Hoppin' John Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen. Hoppin' John is a traditional Southern US dish of black eyed peas (crowder peas), rice and ham. Hoppin' Johns and collard greens is a dish eaten for good luck on New Years. The black eyes of the pea beans represent coins and the green of the collards represent money. Good luck and prosperity. That is something we definitely need this year in our hard economic times.
I had two challenges with this soup. First - I wanted it to be vegetarian so the eliminated the ham and ham broth. I knew it needed to substitute something for the smoky ham flavor. My first thought was to use smoky Spanish paprika. I like it but sometimes it results in a flat taste from the paprika.
I stumbled upon today's article from the Washington Post by Kim O'Donnel for Meatless Monday. She was making a vegetarian version of Hoppin' John and had the same challenge - how to get the smoky flavor without the meat. She used smoked salt. Wow - what a great idea. But I came across the article too late for purchasing some smoked salt. (Note to Marta - find some!). But she also suggested chipotle chile. Kalyn's recipe did call for a pinch of pepper flakes and many of the other recipes suggested a dash or two of Tabasco. Hmmm... I had a bit still from the previous soup. I tried it and it was perfect! Some olive oil and a little bit of butter - I didn't miss the ham at all.
Second challenge - I don't like cooked greens especially collards or mustard greens. I decided to use some milder baby spinach which worked perfect. I only added a handful which was too little. I could have used a couple of handfuls. I also wanted to add some cooked rice but I forgot. But the soup was still great. We both lapped up our bowls.
I made grilled Fontina cheese and mushroom sandwiches along with it and it was the perfect cool December night dinner. Thanks Shannon!
Here is Kayln's recipe and my modifications are on the side in italics. Enjoy!
Hopping John Soup
From Kayln's Kitchen
1 onion, chopped in fairly small pieces
1 cup celery, chopped in fairly small pieces
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
2-3 cups diced ham (cut off the ham rind and save) (Omit for vegetatian)
8 cups homemade chicken stock (Vegetarian Broth or Better than Boullion)
(or use water with chicken soup base or canned chicken broth)
2 16 oz. packages frozen black-eyed peas
(or use 6 cups freshly cooked black-eyed peas)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bunch fresh collard greens, chopped (about 2 cups when measured after chopping, but next time I would use more) (For milder flavor - use baby spinach)
pinch red pepper flakes (optional) (1 tsp chopped chipotle for vegetarian smoky flavor and pinch of smoky paprika)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, or more to taste (omit if using chipolte)
Optional: ham flavor base if needed, see note at end of the recipe.
Optional: 1/2 cup cooked long grain rice
In large frying pan, saute onion and celery in olive oil about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes more, then add ham and saute over very low heat 10 minutes. (Don't skip this step, which concentrates the ham flavor into the vegetables.)
Transfer mixture to large soup pot, add chicken stock, black eyed peas, and ham rinds if available, and cook at very low simmer for one hour. (skip ham if making vegetarian)
After soup has cooked one hour, taste for flavoring. Add more water and ham flavor base if needed. (It will depend on your ham, but I usually add a tiny bit. I added about 2 cups more water to the soup at this point.) Add chopped collard greens, stir into soup and simmer one hour more, or until black-eyed peas are quite soft. (If using spinach - add when beans are almost soft and cook only 15 minutes or so) When black-eyed peas are as soft as you want them, remove pieces of ham rind, then use an immersion blender, food processor, or hand masher to partially process about half the soup. You want a mixture of broken and unbroken black-eyes peas, with some thickening of the soup from the pureeing process. Be careful not to over process. Add red pepper flakes and vinegar ( or chipolte and rice for vegetarian version) and simmer 10 minutes more. Serve hot.
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn Denny with inspiration from The Gourmet Cookbook.)
Note: I also added about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes about 1/2 way through cooking the beans.