Southern New Year’s Black-Eyed Peas

I wasn’t familiar with black-eyed peas until I have married into a Southern family. Those small, creamy-flavored beans with a ‘black eye’ where they were joined to the pod are a Southern good luck tradition for New Year’s Day, one with deep roots in African-American culture.

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People in the South will tell you that the tradition dates back to the American Secession War. Black-eyed peas were considered animal food. According to a legend, when General Sherman’s union troops raided the Confederate food supplies, they took everything except the peas and salted pork. The Confederate soldiers considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies, and survived the winter. Peas became a symbol of luck.

Southern New Year's Black-Eyed Peas

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
  • Print



  • 1 pound of dry black-eyed peas
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves  garlic, minced
  • 2 (32 ounce) cartons of chicken broth
  • 1 pound of smoked ham hocks
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 5 pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the black-eyed peas into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse before using.

  2. In a large pot saute the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until onion becomes translucent, for about 5 minutes.

  3. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to boil. Stir in soaked black-eyed peas, ham hocks, tomatoes, pepperoncini, bay leaf, garlic powder, thyme, and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until peas are tender, ham meat is falling off the bones and the broth is thickened for about 3 hours.

Serve with cornbread (my favorite recipe follows).



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