Gina’s Hoppin’ John Soup

By Patrick and Gina Neely

GINA Ever since I was a little girl, my mom has been telling me that if you don’t eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day you’ll have a bad year ahead of you. Now, when I was younger I didn’t care a bit. I was going through that awkward stage anyway—how much worse could it be? But as I got older, I learned to love that black-eyed pea tradition, convinced that my year was going to be fantastic! And you know what’s funny? I tell my girls the same thing. Who says traditions and superstitions aren’t effective? Not to mention that black-eyed peas are rich in calcium and vitamin A. What could be bad about that? Of course, this being a Gina recipe, I added in my favorite collard greens. . . . Mmm, even better.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 small bunch (about 1 pound) collard greens

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces smoked ham steak, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 dried bay leaf

One 15 1/2-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 cup cooked long-grain white rice

Dash of hot sauce, preferably Tabasco

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping

Directions

  1. Remove the stems and center ribs from the collard greens. Stack about six leaves on top of each other, roll into a cigar shape, and slice into thin ribbons.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, toss in the ham, onion, garlic, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, roughly 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the red-pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Add the collard greens, and sauté until they begin to soften.

  3. Pour in the chicken broth, the bay leaf, the black-eyed peas, and the can of tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir the rice into the soup to warm. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.

  4. Spoon into bowls, and sprinkle each bowl with Parmesan cheese.