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Hoppin' John with Kale - A traditional Southern dish with some Portuguese influences in the mix. Delicious!

Hoppin’ John is a traditional dish from the Southern region of the United States and it has African, French and Caribbean roots. (The blog What’s Cooking America does a great job explaining the vast history of this dish and you can read more about that right here.)

While Hoppin’ John is typically made with black eyed peas, ham hocks or bacon, and collard greens, my husband Jack grew up with a version of the recipe that had a heavy Portuguese influence! Instead of ham hocks – spicier linguica or chourico was used, and rather than collard greens – kale was added.

Hoppin' John with Kale - A traditional Southern dish with some Portuguese influences in the mix. Delicious!

So our delicious version of Hoppin’ John with Kale is a combination of the traditional and the Portuguese versions. We stayed true to the original by cooking the black eyed peas with ham hocks, but we incorporated kale into the finished dish rather than the traditional collard greens!

Once the black eyed peas and kale are cooked to a tender consistency, we served this Hoppin’ John with Kale over rice and topped it with a sprinkle of crispy bacon for some texture and scallions for a bright, fresh contrast of flavors.

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Hoppin’ John with Kale

  • Prep Time: 12 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Total Time: 13 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8


Note: The dry peas are soaked overnight in this recipe so leave yourself enough time.


  • ½ pound black eyed peas (or field peas)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • ½ pound thick cut smoked bacon, diced into half inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 11 ½ pounds ham hocks
  • ½ cup celery diced
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups kale, removed from stems and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 23 tablespoons minced scallions


  1. The night before, soak black eyed peas in cold water overnight at room temperature.
  2. The following day, drain peas and discard water.
  3. In a medium pot over medium heat, place bacon and cook until crisp. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Reserve two tablespoons of bacon fat in pan and add oil. Increase heat to medium high and add ham hocks. Sear on all sides and remove, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add celery, onion and green pepper and cook for three minutes. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.
  5. Add ham hocks back in along with stock, soaked peas, bay leaf, thyme, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes covered or until peas are almost tender but still a little bit chewy.
  6. While peas are cooking, cook rice according to package directions and set aside. (1 cup rice to two cups water).
  7. Add chopped kale to pot with peas and cook for 10 minutes covered.
  8. Remove ham hocks and bay leaf and discard.
  9. Strain out solids and cook liquid down to one cup, about 10 more minutes. Turn off burner and add butter. Stir to dissolve. Add solids back in and stir to combine.
  10. To serve, place mixture over rice and top with cooked bacon and scallions.

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  • Nibbles By Nic wrote:

    So festive and fun! The addition of kale is just genius!

  • pam (Sidewalk Shoes) wrote:

    I love that you used kale!

  • kristy @ the wicked noodle wrote:

    What a gorgeous dish! I love the use of kale; I’m always looking for innovative ways to use it and this definitely fits that bill!

  • Nutmeg Nanny wrote:

    I have always loved hoppin John but I love this jazzed up version. I really love kale addition and spicy Portuguese sausage is my favorite!

  • Lisa wrote:

    I’m a fan of Southern dishes and the history behind them. This dish is a great combination and I’d love to give it a try.

  • Kristen @ A Mind Full Mom wrote:

    I love hoppin John, but have never thought to put Kale in it–that is so brilliant. I love it!

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