In the south, it’s traditional to eat black eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day for good health, prosperity, and luck in the new year. This Instant Pot Black Eyed Pea Soup is an easy way to cook this hearty, cheap, and nutritious soup with dried black eyed peas in half the usual time! And it’s a great way to use up any leftover ham (or a ham bone) you have from the holidays.
Packed with healthy pulses, tons of veggies, and smoky flavor, this soup will warm you to the core on cold days. And since it’s freezable and makes a TON, you can easily store the leftovers for the next time you need a quick, warm meal on a busy weeknight. It’s gluten- and dairy-free, too!
I love the traditions surrounding New Years. A while ago, I posted a recipe for Vasilopita, a traditional sweet Greek bread with a coin hidden inside (whomever gets the coin in their slice gets good luck in the new year). And in fact, I’ve even heard that some people add a coin to this soup with the same intention. By the way, I do not condone this- it would be so hard to find in a soup. So dangerous for your teeth!
This tradition of black eyed peas is African in origin. When served with rice, the dish is known as a “Hoppin’ John.” The greens (traditionally collard, but I used kale) are green and therefore represent wealth. Sometimes, the peas are served with cornbread, which is golden in color and therefore also represents wealth.
Wealth aside, I love the healthy, nutritious focus on this soup. The black eyed peas are super high in fiber (and, interestingly, using dried peas results in more fiber than canned). We all know greens are good for you- kale and collards both have a ton of health benefits. But because collards need to cook for a longer period of time, they often lose some of their nutrients in the cooking process. I used kale because it requires very little time to cook in the soup.
This soup is packed with a delicious smoky flavor, both from the ham and from the smoked paprika. If you are making a vegetarian/vegan version of this recipe by omitting the ham, I recommend adding more smoked paprika to get that awesome flavor. See notes in recipe below for more about this.
I also made sure to use fire roasted diced tomatoes. I almost always use them in whatever recipe I’m making that calls for canned tomatoes. The fire roasting gives them a smoky, deep flavor.
If you got an Instant Pot for the holidays and can’t wait to try it out, this is a great beginner’s recipe! And if you don’t have a pressure cooker, I highly recommend it. It makes healthy cooking so fast and easy. As compared to a slow cooker, I like that the Instant Pot has a sauté feature (which makes browning meat and softening veggies a cinch). It also makes food taste a bit better in my opinion than a slow cooker. There is a bit of a learning curve to it, but once you get in the swing of things, it’s a wonderful piece of kitchen equipment for the busy cook.
Speaking of the new year, I’m going to be doing a “Mediterranean Diet” theme on the blog for the month of January! Like many of you, I always like to focus on health in the new year. I love Mediterranean food in general for its taste, but I’ll be focusing mostly on its emphasis on fresh fruits and veggies, legumes, whole grains, lean protein and fish, and healthy fats. If you have any suggestions for a recipe you’d like to see, please leave it in the comments below or shoot me an email!
Here’s the recipe for this super easy Instant Pot Black Eyed Pea Soup. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Instant Pot Black Eyed Pea Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 rib celery diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1.5 cups ham cubed, or leftover ham bone or hock (see notes)
- 1 lb. dried black eyed peas soaked overnight in water, rinsed, and drained
- 6 cups chicken stock/broth or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (from about 2 sprigs)
- 15 oz. canned fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 cups roughly chopped kale or collard greens, packed
- kosher to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Turn your Instant Pot/pressure cooker to the "sauté" setting.
- Sauté the onion, celery, and carrots in the olive oil (1 tablespoon) for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the minced garlic (1 clove) and cubed ham (1.5 cups); sauté for 2-3 more minutes. (If using a ham bone or hock, just add the garlic, then add the ham bone in the next step).
- Add the pre-soaked, drained, and rinsed black eyed peas, chicken stock (6 cups), smoked paprika (1 tablespoon), bay leaf, fresh thyme (1 tablespoon). Stir together.
- Set Instant Pot/pressure cooker to manual/high pressure for 10 minutes.
- Allow to naturally depressurize for 20 minutes, then quick release the pressure.
- If you used a ham bone/hock, remove it at this time. Take the meat off the bone, chop it up, and add it back to the pot. Discard the bone.
- Stir in the 2 cups packed kale (or collard greens) and canned diced tomatoes to the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. The residual heat of the soup should cook the greens through, but you can always set the pot to "sauté" to simmer it for a few minutes if you need to.
- Slow Cooker Instructions: If using a slow cooker, add all ingredients except for tomatoes, greens, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Add the tomatoes and greens and season with salt and pepper when it's done, allowing the residual heat of the soup to cook the greens through.
- Stovetop Instructions: If using the stovetop, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery as instructed in olive oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and ham as instructed. Add remaining ingredients except for tomatoes, greens, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for 2-3 hours, or until black eyed peas are tender. Add the tomatoes and greens, season with salt and pepper, and continue simmering until greens are cooked through.
- Make it vegetarian/vegan: omit the ham and make sure to use vegetable stock. Add more smoked paprika for a deeper smoky flavor, as well as more salt.
- I made this recipe in my 6 qt. Instant pot. It should work the same in an 8 qt., but you may need to cut the ingredients in half for a 3 qt. mini.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.