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. 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.
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!
Why do people eat black eyed peas and greens on New Years?
This tradition of black eyed peas on New Years is 1500 years old. In fact, it’s documented that people ate black eyed peas in 500 A.D. as part of a Jewish custom of celebrating Rosh Hashanah.
Eating black eyed peas with rice 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. This tradition spread throughout the South after the Civil War. One tradition states that they are a symbol of emancipation for previously enslaved African-Americans.
Sometimes, the peas are served with cornbread, which is golden in color and therefore also represents wealth.
Is black eyed pea soup healthy?
Wealth and traditions aside, I love the healthy, nutritious focus on this soup. I eat this soup all winter long because it’s so healthy and nutrient-packed!
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.
Can I make this black eyed pea soup vegetarian or vegan?
Yes! 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.
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.
Should I soak the black eyed peas?
I DO recommend soaking the peas before cooking.
People love pressure cookers because they save on time. So from a time-saving perspective, you don’t really need to soak them. And if you want to skip this step, you can make this soup with dried black eyed peas and 8 cups of chicken stock instead of 6, increasing the cooking time to 30 minutes from 10.
BUT. Here’s why I recommend soaking them.
- Soaking the peas breaks down the indigestible carbohydrates found in legumes that makes them hard to digest. If you soak them, they’ll be easier to digest. In other words: less gas :-)
- Soaking the peas in SALTED water helps flavor them and helps keep the skin intact. You’ll end up with much more flavorful peas if you use salt when soaking, and it will also help the peas not turn too mushy when they cook.
So there you go! I recommend soaking the peas covered by at least 2 inches of water in a container with 1 tablespoon kosher salt overnight in your fridge before making this soup. Drain and rinse well before cooking.
Can I make this in my slow cooker or on the stovetop?
Yes! To make it in your slow cooker, add all the ingredients except for the tomatoes, greens, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Then, stir in the remaining ingredients/season with salt and pepper.
To make it on your stovetop, sauté the veggies in olive oil, add the garlic and ham, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer covered on low for 2-3 hours, until peas are cooked. Then, stir in the greens, tomatoes, and season with more salt and pepper.
Why I recommend an Instant Pot
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.
Other Instant Pot Soup Recipes with Legumes
Check out all my Instant Pot recipes! And Happy New Year!
Did you make this Instant Pot Black Eyed Pea Soup recipe? Please click the stars below to comment and Rate this Recipe
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.
- Soaking the beans: I recommend soaking the peas covered by at least 2 inches of water in a container with 1 tablespoon kosher salt overnight in your fridge before making this soup. Drain and rinse well before cooking. This will help break down the indigestible carbohydrates in the peas and flavor them as well.
- 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.