Hoppin' John Soup
This soup is a riff on the traditional black-eyed peas, greens, and rice dish known as Hoppin’ John. This traditional Southern dish is eaten on New Year’s Day to ensure good luck in the coming year.
It is said that the beans represent coins, and the greens represent dollars, so eating the dish as a New Years' ritual is done to bring prosperity. Mostly, it’s just a delicious way to start the year off with a dose of something “lucky” to eat, while also making use of any leftover Christmas Ham.
The traditional succotash-style rendition of Hoppin’ John is wonderful, but with so many of us resolving to 1) avoid grains, 2) eat more veggies, and 3) consume more bone broth, I began tinkering with the recipe to turn it into a hearty soup that meets all three goals. The result was such a hit, I had to share it with you.
Soups are like the salads of winter in that they’re a great way to pack in our veggie servings. Unlike salads, they’re warming to the body during the chilly months. It’s also a great way to nourish your gut, skin, hair, and nail health with collagen-rich bone broth.
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Let's Talk Black-eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are in fact a bean (i.e. legume). Beans, while highly nutritious, and high in gut-supportive fiber and prebiotics, are also known to have some antinutrients such as phytic acid, which can prevent the absorption of their beneficial nutrients. Also, for some their high fiber content can lead to uncomfortable bloating, gas, and stomach pain. This is why some anti-inflammatory dietary or gut-healing dietary protocols choose to omit them (like Paleo or AIP).
As always, adhere to the diet that works best for your body and your unique dietary needs and sensitivities. If you can tolerate them, beans should not be overlooked as a heart-healthy, affordable, plant-based source of protein, fiber, and micronutrients.
To ease digestion, improve nutrient absorption, and reduce phytic acid content, simply soak the dried beans in cool water for at least 6 hours before cooking. Drain and rinse thoroughly, before cooking in fresh water.
How to Choose the Best Ham
Look for uncured ham steak that is free of nitrates, and prepared using actual smoke instead of flavorings and additives. My go-to (if you can find it) is Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked, Uncured Ham Steak, which is available in single slice packages. Slices vary in size but one will typically provide plenty for this recipe.
This soup freezes well and makes a big batch so you’ll have plenty of leftovers to do as you please with. If you’d like to make a smaller batch, simply toggle the servings on the recipe, or “print recipe” card, and ingredient amounts will auto-adjust. NOTE: If you are planning to cook your own beans and/or bone broth, allow extra time for that and start the day before. (Bone broth should ideally simmer for 24 hours.)
The ideal finishing touch for this Hoppin’ John Soup is Louisiana-style hot sauce. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a handful of hot sauces to choose from on your condiment shelf. My favorite with a “clean” ingredient list is Frank’s Red Hot. It has a nice balance of heat, garlic, and vinegar to both brighten and bolden your bowl. Tabasco would also work but is more fierce and fiery than Frank’s.
- Black Eyed Peas are in fact a bean that is high in fiber, protein, and several micronutrients like folate, copper, thiamine, iron, magnesium, and zinc. They’re also high in polyphenols, an antioxidant plant compound that protects against cell damage and prevents disease. To ease digestion and improve nutrient absorption, be sure to soak dried beans for at least 6 hours, then drain and rinse prior to cooking in plenty of fresh water.
- Bone broth is one of the most highly recommended foods for anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease. The collagen and glycine can help repair cell damage in the intestinal tract. It also supports hair, skin, and nail health, as well as our body's detox pathways.
- 1 cup of carrots provides 428% DV of Vitamin A, which may be a key factor in preventing hypothyroidism.
- In addition to being non-goitrogenic and low in calories, a 1 ounce serving of cooked sweet peppers contains 76% DV for vitamin C. A study recently shared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism stated, “In patients with hypothyroidism and gastrointestinal pathology, vitamin C improves the abnormalities in serum free T4, T3, and TSH concentrations.” *Please Note* peppers are in the nightshade family for those of you avoiding them.
- Collard Greens are one of the most nutritious varieties of DGLVs (dark green leafy vegetables), and come from the same family as kale. Collard greens are a good source of calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate. They’re also one of the best food sources of bone-supporting vitamin K, with more than 1,000% of the recommended DV in a 1-cup serving. Because they are a cruciferous vegetable they contain goitrogenic compounds, but cooking greatly reduces or eliminates those compounds. If you are avoiding all goitrogens you could substitute zucchini.