Lucky Soup for the New Year

Southern tradition says eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day guarantees good luck for the entire year. People say ham and collard greens bring fortune, as well. To hit all the bases, I came up with this Black Eyed Pea and Ham Soup with Collard Greens for the New Year. Black Eyed Pea and Ham Soup with Collard Greens is tasty, filling, and perfect for New Year’s Day or any other winter day.

Lucky Soup for New Year
Collard greens

The New Year’s Day Traditions

Black Eyed Peas

For the first eighteen years of my life, I came downstairs on January 1st to find my mother waiting for me to take my first bite of black-eyed peas.  As an adult, it was up to me to make my own luck. I once made a frantic late night trip to the grocery store on New Year’s Eve for a can of black-eyed peas. Because the store would be closed the next day, I left a friend’s party and drove to the nearest grocery store. I came back to the festivities proudly clutching my can of peas. They remained in my purse for the night, and I happily cracked them open the next day and whipped up a hoppin’ john.

New Year's Lucky Soup

Other lucky foods

Why are these “lucky”? I have heard a few “rationalizations” for this legend. The peas resemble coins, and eating them would guarantee wealth. Another tale is that during the War, the city of Vicksburg, Virginia ran out of food, and the people would have starved if it wasn’t for a crop of black-eyed peas. Whatever the lucky significance, I have never gone a year without having at least one bite of black-eyed peas. I don’t intend to, ever.  Ham and collard greens are also New Year’s Day staples.

According to Bon Appetit, pork is said to symbolize progress. Perhaps it is because of the animal’s behavior. Pigs are always rooting and pushing forward with its snout. Ham is delicious and affordable in this soup. Collard greens’ vibrant color and resemblance to paper money symbolizes wealth and good fortune.

Black Eyed Pea and Ham Soup with Collard Greens

This Black Eyed Pea and Ham Soup with Collard Greens is soul-satisfying, even without the added luck it (assuredly) brings. I start with my basic recipe for collard greens. They simmer with a ham hock, red pepper flakes, and a little cider vinegar. It takes the hour-long cooking time to get them tender. I add black-eyed peas and some chopped ham steak. If we have a spiral-sliced ham for the holidays, I use the bone and remaining meat in this recipe as a replacement for the ham steak and hocks.

New Years Soup
Lucky Soup for New Year
3.25 from 4 votes

Black Eyed Pea and Ham Soup with Collard Greens

This Black Eyed Pea and Ham Soup with Collard Greens is ideal for any New Year's Day meal.

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword black eyed pea soup, lucky soup for new year, new year’s day soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 157 kcal
Author Amanda


  • 1 lb collard greens or kale or one bag chopped greens
  • 3-4 ham hocks shanks, or neckbones*
  • 1 onion peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 14-ounce can tomatoes in juice diced
  • 1 32-ounce carton vegetable stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 8 oz black eyed peas frozen
  • 1 ham steak chopped or torn into bite sized pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped


  1. Remove the tougher, woody stalks from the collard leaves. Smaller stems are okay. Wash the leaves and cut them into half-inch-wide strips. If using a bag of pre-cut greens, skip this step. Put the hocks, shanks or neckbones in a stock pot. Add the onion, collards, tomatoes, stock and water. Add the vinegar, red pepper, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn to low and simmer for at least 1 hour.

  2. After the greens are tender, remove the ham hocks/shanks/neckbones. Shred any meat and return to the pot.
  3. Add the chopped ham, carrots and peas, bring to boil, and simmer for 30 minutes or until peas are soft and thoroughly cooked. Serve in bowls with a baguette, if desired.

Recipe Notes

If you have a ham bone with a bit of meat still on it from a spiral sliced ham, you can skip buying the hocks and ham steak. Just remove the ham bone after the hour of simmering time. Shred off the meat, return it to the pot, and discard the bone.

Nutrition Facts
Black Eyed Pea and Ham Soup with Collard Greens
Amount Per Serving (1.5 cups)
Calories 157 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 717mg31%
Potassium 250mg7%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 49IU1%
Vitamin C 7mg8%
Calcium 16mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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13 thoughts on “Black Eyed Pea and Ham Soup for New Year’s Day”

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  4. My sister-in-law makes black-eyed peas every New Year and I never knew why! Now I know and I love the history and will tell the story when we are eating it tonight with cornbread. My 13 year old son will probably hate it but I don’t care. Its my birthday and I’ll make what I want! (I added sliced carrots to symbolize golden coins;-)

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