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Smoky and satisfying, this healthy black eyed pea soup is the perfect supper for a chilly day! The easy dinner can be prepared on the stovetop or in the Crock Pot, and is delicious alongside cornbread for a lucky Southern New Year’s Day meal.

Overhead image of black eyed pea soup on a table with a side salad and cornbread muffins
Table of Contents
  1. A Lucky Southern Tradition
  2. Do I Need to Soak Black-Eyed Peas Before Cooking?
  3. Ingredients
  4. How to Make Black Eyed Pea Soup
  5. How to Thicken
  6. Serving Suggestions
  7. Storage
  8. Recipe Variations
  9. Tips for the Best Black-Eyed Pea Soup Recipe
  10. Southern Black-Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

There’s nothing cozier than a warm bowl of hearty soup. Whether you prefer a vegetarian black eyed pea soup or a black eyed pea soup with ham, this simple recipe can be tailored to any diet and comes together with minimal effort!

A Lucky Southern Tradition

Every single year of my entire life, my mom has prepared a “lucky” Southern dinner on New Year’s Day — just like her father’s Southern family raised her to do. Black eyed peas are always on the menu, because black-eyed peas swell when they cook — representing prosperity in the New Year. Other tradition says that the black eyed peas symbolize pennies (or coins) and wealth for the year ahead. A complete lucky Southern New Year’s meal includes:

  • Pork (Ham): representing positive motion, since pigs root forward when foraging;
  • Greens: symbolize money, often include collard greens, mustard greens, cabbage, turnip greens or spinach;
  • Cornbread: represents gold;
  • Black-Eyed Peas: for prosperity in the year ahead.
Side shot of two bowls of black-eyed pea soup on a table with cornbread

Why do you put a penny in black-eyed peas?

Some families boost the lucky potential of their Hoppin’ John or other black-eyed peas recipes by placing a penny underneath the dishes, or by adding extra pork for good fortune.

Are black-eyed peas healthy?

Yes! Like other beans, black eyed peas are very nutritious. They’re rich in fiber and protein, which make them an excellent energy source. Add plenty of fresh veggies and greens, and you’ve got a power-packed bowl of vitamins, minerals, and other goodness!

Soaked and drained black eyed peas

Do I Need to Soak Black-Eyed Peas Before Cooking?

It’s not absolutely necessary to soak the black-eyed peas before cooking them; however, soaking dried beans in a large bowl or pot overnight reduces the required cooking time significantly. The texture of the cooked beans is also best after soaking, with fewer that split open and burst.

How to Quick Soak

If you don’t have time to soak the black-eyed peas in advance, you can rinse them, place them in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the peas, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, and then let the peas soak in the hot water for 1 hour. Drain the peas in a colander, rinse them under cold water, and proceed with the recipe.

How to Make Black-Eyed Peas Taste Better

Some black-eyed pea soup recipes may be watered down or bland…but not this one! You’ll add layers of flavor to the soup by sauteing aromatics (like onion, carrots, celery, and garlic) in olive oil at the start. The addition of ham not only makes it more hearty and satisfying, but also contributes great smoky, salty flavor to the dish. Finally, season liberally with dried or fresh herbs to really make the soup stand out!

Sauteing vegetables in a blue Dutch oven

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pot of Southern black-eyed pea soup. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Dried black-eyed peas: I use Camellia brand blackeye peas, but any similar variety will work.
  • Olive oil: to sauté the vegetables.
  • Carrots, celery, onion, and garlic: aromatics that add tons of flavor to the soup.
  • Broth: I prefer chicken broth, but you can substitute with vegetable broth as well. For a real treat, use homemade chicken broth!
  • Collard greens: it wouldn’t be a pot of lucky black eyed pea soup without the greens! You can substitute with another variety of greens, such as turnip greens, mustard greens, or kale; or add baby spinach at the very end instead.
  • Ham: use leftover ham from a holiday meal, or purchase smoked ham at the grocery store. I like to use thick-cut boneless ham steaks when I don’t have leftovers to enjoy. You can also use a smoked ham hock or a leftover ham bone to achieve that same smoky flavor.
  • Petite diced tomatoes: add extra flavor and nutrients to bulk up the soup.
  • Salt and ground black pepper: use sparingly, and season as you go. The ham and broth can be quite salty on their own.
  • Bay leaves: give the soup an earthy flavor that makes it taste like it’s been simmering for days.
Adding diced ham to a Dutch oven

How to Make Black Eyed Pea Soup

Black-eyed peas are a must on New Year’s Day! No matter what we had going on, where we were, or who else was around our table, my Mom always served them with our first dinner of the New Year…along with the other usual suspects of greens and cornbread. Southern superstition tells us that black-eyed peas bring prosperity in the New Year, so who am I to argue with tradition?!

You can make this soup in the slow cooker or in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, so pick whichever method suits your schedule. I’ve included both sets of instructions in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  1. Soak the beans.
  2. Sauté the veggies in a large Dutch oven (this is the one that I use).
  3. Add the remaining ingredients.
  4. Simmer the pot covered for about 2 hours.
Square overhead shot of a bowl of southern black eyed pea soup with ham and greens

How to Thicken

There are a few of ways to thicken the soup. First, remove the lid towards the end of the cooking time. This will allow some of the liquid to evaporate, thickening the broth. You can also mash some of the black eyed peas with the back of a spoon or with a potato masher, or puree a portion of the soup with an immersion blender. The mashed peas and veggies will thicken the broth nicely!

Finally, if you have time, prepare the soup in advance. It just gets better as it sits and the flavors come together. It will also thicken as it cools.

Southern black eyed pea soup in a gray bowl on a dinner table

Serving Suggestions

Thanks to the black-eyed peas, greens, and ham, you’ve basically got an entire lucky New Year’s Day dinner in one pot! Just add a side of Southern cornbread, sweet cornbread, or cornbread muffins to complete the meal. Other good options include buttermilk biscuits, a loaf of crusty Dutch oven bread, honey beer bread, or Aunt Bee’s 3-ingredient sour cream muffins.

Dinner table with black eyed pea soup in two bowls with cornbread in the background

Storage

Store the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It’s a nice make-ahead option for busy weeks.

How to Freeze

This is a great freezer meal, so prepare a big pot and stick any leftovers in the freezer for a quick-prep lunch or dinner option. Allow the soup to cool to room temperature. Stored in an airtight container, the soup will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How to Reheat

Place the soup in a pot and warm over a low flame, just until heated through. You can also microwave individual bowls for about 1-2 minutes.

Overhead shot of hands holding a bowl of black eyed pea soup

Recipe Variations

  • If you prefer a canned black-eyed pea soup, try this recipe, but use canned black-eyed peas.
  • Forgot to soak your peas? You can still prepare the soup with dried peas, but you will need to extend the simmering time on the stovetop to give them ample time to soften. You may also need to add water to the pot as the peas simmer and plump up. See my tip above for a “quick soak” as another option.
  • Instead of diced ham, use a smoked ham hock or a ham bone to give the soup that same smoky flavor. Italian sausage is also a great addition!
  • I used petite diced tomatoes (since the kids prefer the smaller bites), but you can use regular diced tomatoes or other canned tomatoes of choice.
  • In lieu of the greens, add fresh spinach at the very end.
  • For a vegetarian black-eyed pea soup, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Omit the ham, and add an extra ½ cup of dried beans. It will still be delicious! Season with cumin, salt, pepper, or other spices, to add extra flavor to your liking.
Overhead shot of a gold spoon in a bowl of black eyed pea soup

Tips for the Best Black-Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

  • Adjust the total cooking time to suit you preferences and your desired tenderness. While 1 ½ hours on the stovetop might be sufficient for firmer peas, other folks may prefer 2 hours or up to 2 ½ hours for more tender, broken-down, creamy black eyed peas.
  • Use salt sparingly, since ham is salty on its own. Taste and season as you go — the total amount of salt necessary will depend on the sodium in your broth and ham, as well as your personal preference.
  • Spicy: add a dash of cayenne, or garnish with crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce.
  • For a thicker, creamier consistency, use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to smash some of the cooked peas against the inside of the pot.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs or add extra herbs and seasoning to the pot. Good options include parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, cilantro, and rosemary. A dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a dash of hot sauce, or a splash of vinegar are also nice finishing touches.
Overhead shot of hands eating a bowl of black eyed pea soup with a gold spoon
Square overhead shot of a bowl of southern black eyed pea soup with ham and greens

Southern Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 30 minutes
Soaking Time 8 hours
Total: 10 hours 45 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 316 kcal
Smoky and satisfying, this healthy black eyed pea soup is the perfect supper for a chilly day!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic
  • 8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 3 cups chopped stemmed collard greens (from 1 8-ounce bunch)
  • 1 lb. cooked ham, diced (about 3 cups total) (or sub with 2 lbs. smoked ham hocks)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh herbs; crushed red pepper flakes; hot sauce; a squeeze of fresh lemon juice; or a dash of apple cider vinegar

Instructions

STOVETOP:

  • Place black-eyed peas in a large pot or bowl. Cover with water 2 inches above the peas and soak for 8 hours (or overnight). Drain peas.
    Soaked and drained black eyed peas
  • Heat olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Sauté carrots, celery, onion, and garlic until the vegetables start to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes.
    Sauteing vegetables in a blue Dutch oven
  • Stir in the drained peas, broth, collard greens, ham, salt, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; cover; reduce the heat to low, and simmer (covered) for about 2 – 2 ½ hours (or until the peas and vegetables are tender). Discard bay leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
    Adding diced ham to a Dutch oven
  • Ladle into bowls and serve. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, hot sauce, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or a splash of apple cider vinegar.
    Square overhead shot of a bowl of southern black eyed pea soup with ham and greens

SLOW COOKER:

  • Place black-eyed peas in a large pot or bowl. Cover with water 2 inches above the peas and soak for 8 hours (or overnight). Drain peas.
  • Transfer soaked peas to a slow cooker.
  • Heat olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Sauté carrots, celery, onion, and garlic until the vegetables start to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker.
  • Stir in broth, collard greens, ham, salt, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on HIGH for about 4 hours or on LOW for about 7-8 hours, or until the peas and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Ladle into bowls and serve. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, hot sauce, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Notes

  • Adjust the total cooking time to suit you preferences and your desired tenderness. While 1 ½ hours on the stovetop might be sufficient for firmer peas, other folks may prefer 2 hours or up to 2 ½ hours for more tender, broken-down, creamy black eyed peas.
  • Use salt sparingly, since ham is salty on its own. Taste and season as you go — the total amount of salt necessary will depend on the sodium in your broth and ham, as well as your personal preference.
  • Spicy: add a dash of cayenne, or garnish with crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce.
  • For a thicker, creamier consistency, use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to smash some of the cooked peas against the inside of the pot.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs or add extra herbs and seasoning to the pot. Good options include parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, cilantro, and rosemary. A dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a dash of hot sauce, or a splash of vinegar are also nice finishing touches.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 316kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 26gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 0.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 1915mgPotassium: 1005mgFiber: 9gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 5923IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 136mgIron: 6mg
Keyword: black eyed pea soup, black eyed pea soup with ham, lucky black eyed pea soup, southern black eyed pea soup
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Patricia Sowers says:

    Happy New Year Blair to you and your famiy. I find this recipe very interesting as I like to cook all types of soups in winter months. My question is can I use can black eye pea instead of dried ones making allowance of time cooking. I would imagine that if this is acceptable then I would cook on stove top instead of crock pot. I enjoy your blog so much as I too am a Virginian (Ricmond VA area resident). The pictures are just the added bonus. Thanks again for taking time to answer my question.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Hi Patricia,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! We’re so glad you enjoy the blog. We recommend using this recipe if you prefer to use canned black-eyed peas. Of course, you could try using this recipe and making the adjustments you mentioned, but we cannot guarantee your results. We hope this helps!