New Year, Old Tradition (With a Twist)

potlikker 5The New Year will soon be here, and if you’re one who follows tradition (or is just a little superstitious), you’ll probably have some kind of greens and black-eyed peas on your January 1, 2018 menu. The legend says that the peas will bring you luck, and the greens will bring you money. Even if that’s just a silly myth, beans and greens are so good and so good for you (and economical too!), there’s no reason not eat them up on New Year’s Day. But instead of dirtying up two pots, you can combine these two tasty talismans into one warm, hearty dish: Potlikker Soup.

You may not know what potlikker is, but the chances are high (especially for Southerners) that you’ve eaten it. No, potlikker does not refer to that family member who constantly sticks their spoon (or finger!) in whatever’s cooking to give it a taste. Potlikker is the vitamin-rich broth left over after slow-cooking turnip or collard greens. The odd name is Southern-speak for pot liquor. You’ll also see it spelled as two words: Pot likker. Simple, soothing and full of nutrients, it’s the perfect base for a comforting soup.

If you google “potlikker soup,” you’ll find different recipes. The only real required ingredient is the potlikker itself and the collard or turnip greens that create it. Next time you cook greens, remember to make an extra large batch and to save the broth. That way, you can put this soup together a little faster. (You won’t have to cook it as long to achieve its hallmark flavor.)

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Here’s a tasty version. Serve with cornbread for soppin’.


(serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cups canned black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped red potatoes
  • 1 pound Conecuh sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces, or cubed ham
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ham hock
  • 6 cups fresh turnip or collard greens (torn or chopped roughly)

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil and add the onions. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions are softened. Add the broth, water, greens and ham hock and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 1 hour or until greens are tender. Add the beans and sausage and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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