Hoppin’ John is a traditional soup served in the South on New Year’s Day to bring good luck in the coming year. There are about as many versions of Hoppin’ John as there our regions in the South.
This recipe is adapted from two New Year’s Day recipes in the United States Regional Cookbook, published in 1939. One recipe, called “Hopping John,” is made from red cow peas, rice, and salt pork. The other is called “Hog Jowl and Black-Eyed Peas” and is made up of just those two ingredients plus water.
Since I’m not sure I even WANT to buy a hog jowl, I use ham hocks instead. I also add chopped onion and some pepper flakes for a bit of a kick that the original recipes don’t use.
1 pound package of black-eyed peas
3 pound ham hock, cut crosswise by butcher
1 medium onion, chopped
Pepper flakes, to taste
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain brown rice
Soak beans according to package directions.
Add ham hock and onion to the rehydrated beans.
Add enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook until beans and are tender and the meat is falling off of the bone, about 2 hours.
Remove meat from bone, chop and return to pot.
Add rice and continue cooking for another hour.
Add pepper flakes to taste and serve.