Black Eyed Peas with Ham – good luck for New Year’s!

Happy New Year! Now that I’m a true resident in the South (though Tampa Bay Florida just doesn’t seem very south-ishy to me) I figured it was a fine time to start celebrating some of the southern food traditions, like enjoying Black Eyed Peas with Ham and Greens for New Years.

It’s thought that black eyed peas symbolize prosperity – according to someone who wrote on Wikipedia, “The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion”

Another tradition that I’ve heard is to add a shiny new penny (but wash it first!) to the pot and whoever gets the penny in their bowl will have massive good fortune. For me, the fear that I’d accidentally choke on a penny while slurpin’ down my stew is just too much. I’ll pass on that one.

My friend, John of Food Wishes has a great recipe for Black Eyed Peas with Ham and Greens, so I thought I’d share with you his version with the addition of smoked ham hocks. My version is also a little more “soupier” than his – I didn’t add the entire bag of peas.

black eyed peas recipe

I didn’t have the time to soak the beans (by the way, black eyed peas are really beans, not peas) overnight, so I’ve shared with you my quick-soak version, which only takes 1 hour and boiling water.

Enjoy the recipe and may you have a prosperous, healthy and joyful new year!

Lots of love,

Jaden, Scott, Andrew and Nathan

How to Make Black Eyed Peas with Ham

For the quick-soak method, place the beans in a pot, cover with water and bring to rolling boil. Turn off heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Drain.

I like buying a big ‘ol ham. That way, I’ve got the ham bone and meat for the recipe, plus a ton more that I will use for sandwiches and snackin’ on. You are getting so much more for your money! Freeze what you can’t use. John uses pork neck bone instead of the ham bone.

For the recipe, I’ve got kale (you can use turnip greens or collard greens, but I love the vivid color of kale), smoked ham hocks, carrots, celery, onion, tomato, garlic, diced ham and ham bone.

We’ll saute the onion, celery, carrots in olive oil for a few minutes, then throw in the garlic for another couple of minutes.

Then add the ham bone and ham hocks.

Add the beans and pour in the water. Simmer for about an hour.

After an hour, it’s time to add the diced ham and tomatoes. Let that simmer for another 30-40 minutes.

After the ham and tomatoes are in, you can take out the ham bone and the ham hocks. Give them to your favorite dog.

The last step is to add the kale leaves in — but before you add them in, you need to tear the tender leaves off the tough stem. Here I’ve got a kitchen helper.

Just rip ’em off the stem and discard the stem.

Add the leaves to the pot, just push ’em in there. If you’re using collard or turnip greens, you might want to add them the same time as the ham/tomatoes. I like kale leaves because they don’t require much cooking and retain their bright, vivid green color.

Kale leaves cook for an additional 10 minutes.

And it’s done! Taste and then season with salt.


Black Eyed Peas with Ham Recipe

Servings: 8 Prep Time: 8 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Black Eyed Peas Ham Recipe for New Year

You can soak the black eyed peas overnight, or use the quick soak method I've outlined in the recipe, which cuts the soaking time down to 1 hour. This is also a perfect recipe for the slow cooker -- just make sure you don't add the greens until near the end to keep them vibrant green (and not dull, lifeless green which you wouldn't want for the new year anyways). Recipe adapted from Food Wishes.


1/2 pound dried black eyed peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 smoked ham hocks
1 ham bone (or use any pork bones)
6-8 cups water
3 cups diced ham
1-2 large tomatoes, diced
5 handfuls torn kale leaves (tough stems removed)
salt to taste


1. Rinse the black eyed peas, pick through and discard anything that's not-bean. Soak in water overnight or place in pot with water, bring to rolling boil. Turn off heat and let sit in hot water for 1 hour. Drain, discard water.

2. In large, wide stockpot, heat olive oil. Saute carrots, celery, onion on medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes. Take care not to burn the vegetables. Add the garlic and saute additional 2 minutes. Add the ham bone, hocks, drained beans and water to the pot. Simmer for 1 hour.

3. Remove the hocks and ham bones. Add the diced ham and tomatoes and simmer for additional 30 minutes. Add in kale leaves and cook until leaves are done (kale leaves only require 10 minutes). Salt to taste (the ham and hocks add quite a bit of salt, so taste as you salt)

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Comments 33

  1. Lyndsey

    I know I feel the same way, now that I’ve been in the south for more than twenty years, even though it’s SW Florida. I have my black eyed peas ready to go for tomorrow, and I use kale too instead of collard greens (maybe I’m not all that southern). Last New Year’s Day I made your crispy Kale for my greens! Did that count?

    I like this recipe because it has it all in one pot!

  2. Heather (The Menu Mama)

    This looks fantastic, and I love the beautiful colors. I’ve never made black eyed peas for New Years, but I’m definitely going to have to start making it a tradition, looks too good to pass up!

  3. Chris

    “I’ll pass on that one.”

    That’s ALSO what happens if you do swallow the penny……

    Happy New Years to you, Scott, and the little ones.

  4. Gluten Free Diva

    Love x 100 the pictures. What a great way to see the recipe in action! Here’s an idea for the penny – next year, tape a penny on the bottom of one bowl (underneath) and don’t tell anyone. Then after everyone finished the soup, ask them to look underneath their bowls to see who got the penny!


  5. Rivki Locker

    Jews have the same tradition! We eat black eye peas for the Jewish new year Rosh Hashona, but of course without the ham!
    My resolution for this year is to develop my food photography skills which are now pretty much nil. Your photography is amazing. Do you mind my asking if you have any tips to share with me? what kind of camera and lens do you use? I have a good Dslr camera (canon) but my lenses and skills are better suited for outdoor pix of my kids and scenery. Food photography is just a whole new thing for me. Any tips or recommended reading? Thanks so much and have a great year. Hope you accomplish everything you set out to do!

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Hi Rivki, it’s all about natural light and gettin’ up close to the food. I use a Canon 5D Mark II camera with 100mm macro and 24-70mm lens

      However, don’t let that intimidate you – it’s not about the camera or expensive lens. I can take pics just as great with my Canon point and shoot

      Check out my other site – and go under photography to see some articles on food photography!

  6. John

    Wow, what a beautiful rendition! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for the link, and have a Happy New Year!

  7. Sherri M

    From a NC girl from the South, a couple of more items to add to your “Southernness.” Pork for New Years, definitely, and it should be pork from the shoulder or upward, because of the forward rooting thing. Not from the backend of the pig. Any greens work as they represent green dollars. Blackeyed peas because they represent coin money. Don’t eat chicken or lobster, because they walk and scratch backward, denoting set backs for the new year. Round desserts, especially ring shapes, like cake, represent continutity (with a coin baked inside, brings luck to the person who gets it). Just thought you might like to hear a few more of these. HAPPY NEW YEAR to ALL

  8. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger)

    Oh, Jaden, thanks so much for writing back. I’m thinking of getting a macro lens for my camera.

    I know my lighting isn’t great, lots of times I have to take my photos at night since I have a full time day job! I will check out your other site. Thanks for the tips.

    1. SteamyKitchen

      I like the 24-70mm lens better than the 100mm macro. More flexibility and I don’t have to stand 3 feet away to get a shot of the whole plate.

  9. kamran siddiqi

    Happy New Year, Jaden! I was wondering why so many people were talking about making black eyed peas. I though I wasn’t “with it” once again.

    One of the things on my “To-Do” list for 2011 is to comment more on the blogs that I constantly read, so, one down and a bajillion more to go!

    Have a great Sunday! πŸ™‚

  10. Kikukat

    Now THIS is somrthing I could go for now. After all that holiday feasting with the fam, I’m ready for a bowl of this. Nice and simple. In Hawaii, new years day is one of the biggest feasting days if you are Asian. And even if you are Asian, there is such a thing as too much rice and mochi. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. Winnie

    Gorgeous colors in your soup Jaden and I wish you a wonderful 2011…so happy to have gotten to actually meet you last year in Atlanta- that was truly one of the hightlights of 2010 for me πŸ™‚
    Glad I saw your comment above about not loving your 100mm macro lens best. I have been thinking about buying that lens despite definitely not having the cash for it…so now I’ll just put in out of my mind!

  12. Nancy Baggett

    Got the peas, got the ham, think I’ll see if I can just skip the greens (not on hand)–because this is making me so hungry I want it for supper!

    Have a wonderful New Year.

  13. sara

    Just wanted to stop back in to let you know that I made this soup a couple of weeks ago, and it was scumptioussss!! I inhaled two bowls of it without even batting an eye. Going to make another pot of it tonight! Thanks for the great recipe πŸ™‚

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  15. Haydon

    Wow! Just the recipe I needed for black eyed peas with ham/ham bone. I modified it using 2-15oz cans black eyed peas; several shakes garlic powder; 4 cups chicken broth + 3 cups water; 1-15oz can diced tomatoes; 1-frozen package leaf spinach- thawed & drained; 3/4 teaspoon thyme & 1- bay leaf. I defrosted the 1.5 lb ham bone in micro wave. Thanks for the terrific recipe + photos which made my first time making this soup a breeze & sooooo delicious. HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAYDON IN SHALIMAR, FL.

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  18. Jackie

    SO DELICIOUS! I just made this using some leftovers in the freezer. This spring, I soaked beans (and black eyed peas) over night or a bit longer, then rinsed them off and froze them. I did it in 1 cup portions. They work great! I decided to make the ham stock in the pressure cooker with a few vegetables, a bay leaf and cider vinegar. After tasting it I had some left over for next time. This soup was so good! I may have to have another bowl…

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