Good Luck for the New Year: Coconut Black Eyed Pea Soup

I would not call myself completely superstitious but I think it folly to ignore the potential to rack up good luck for an entire year, especially when through delicious means.  Last year at this time I shared a recipe for Hoppin’ John, a traditional dish in the U.S. South believed to predisposition one for good fortune if eaten first thing in the new year.  It is a delicious, hearty dish I’d gladly eat every morning.  Featuring the beans, rice, some spicy flavor and pork, one is lucky merely to get to eat it for breakfast; any additional good luck is upside.

Hoppin' John: rustic Black Eyed Peas and Ham for luck in the New Year! |
Hoppin’ John: a hearty dish of pork, black beans and rice (pork can be omitted).
The key ingredient for the luck is the black eyed peas.  The roots of black eyed peas (which are really beans) in the U.S. are believed to trace back to Africa, arriving on American soil via slaves. 
I’ve made this dish with each dried black eyed peas that I’ve cooked until tender separately before adding, and with canned black eyed peas.  For taste and texture each are equivalent.  The canned organic black eyed peas (seen in the photo above) I used appear a bit darker as they contained kombu seaweed.  The seaweed adds no taste but addresses the ‘digestive distress’ often accompanying beans.  I use it in every ‘from scratch’ bean dish I make and remove it before serving.
Coconut Black Eyed Pea Soup
As much as I love Hoppin’ John, I love to mix it up annually, still securing my best chance at ‘luck’ for the upcoming year.  Another favorite New Year’s morning dish at my house is one from Tanzania: Coconut Black Eyed Pea Soup.  It also offers the hearty combination of beans and rice (which form to make a complete protein by the way) but it also features curry and coconut for a full bodied, delicious soup anytime.  It’s simple and quick to make and perfect for the chill of the season.

Coconut Black Eyed Pea Soup

Yield: 8-10 servings

The original roots of this soup are Tanzanian. It is a wonderful mix of coconut and curry flavors, sweet and salty.

The traditional recipe for this soup calls for green pepper though I prefer red pepper both for the look and sweetness. I have always used canned organic unsweetened coconut milk (be sure not use coconut cream or sweetened coconut milk). I have not used the coconut milk one can find in the ‘dairy’ case now nor made my own; here is a link to make your own (click here). True confession? I rarely buy fresh tomatoes out of season due to their lack of flavor. I do think the structure of a fresh tomato lends itself to this recipe better than home canned tomatoes however.


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup yellow onions, chopped
  • ½ cup green or red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup fresh tomato, chopped into small pieces (approximately ½ inch)
  • 2 ½ cups black eyed peas (canned, drained or dried, soaked and cooked until tender before adding)
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • A large pinch of sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ cups rice, cooked
  • Optional garnish: Grated coconut and julienned red pepper


  1. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Once melted add the onion, pepper, curry powder, salt and pepper. Sautee for 2-3 minutes until well combined and vegetables begin to soften.
  3. Add chopped tomato. Continue to sauté for two more minutes.
  4. Add black eyed peas, coconut milk, sugar and water. Stir to combine and bring to a low simmer. Simmer about 15 minutes.
  5. Add rice and taste for additional seasoning. Note: I usually add a bit more salt and pepper at this point. Garnish if desired and serve!

Don’t Forget: for luck, eat a bit the very first thing on the New Year!  Whether it be at 12:01 a.m. or when you get up!

More Boulder Locavore ‘lucky’ New Year’s options:

Hoppin’ John (and a list of International Lucky Foods for the New Year)

Black Eyed Pea Fritters with Hot Sauce {Akara}

Smoky Black Eyed Pea Bacon Hummus


  1. says

    This soup looks divine. Pork, beans, rice and coconut – delicious – all my favourite things. Thanks for posting this – I now have something to cook for my relatives – as I was running out of ideas 🙂

  2. says

    Wow, interesting! I've only had New Year's black eyes peas in a slow cooker chili kind of way (I'm not American and we don't have these for New Year in Germany), but a coconut soups sounds fantastic!

  3. says

    This soup sounds incredible. Such a wonderful and interesting combination of ingredients, and the perfect way to ring in the new year. Also, I must admit I'm jealous of your little Les Creuset dishware. I have a few pieces in that color, and I looooove them. 🙂

  4. says

    Somehow this year I seem to have totally messed up the luck business and found myself with a ham bone or black eyed peas. Though I love the plain old standard version…this dish with the curry and coconut sounds amazing. Maybe it would be good enough to still offer the same benefits a day later?

    Happy New Year Toni.

  5. says

    Happy new year Toni! Wanted to let you know I made this tonight and it was a hit. Thanks for a great new years good lick recipe…a day late!

  6. Heather says

    I made this soup on a whim tonight and it was really good. The flavor was a little flat at first so I added some extra curry powder along with cumin and a little bit of cayenne and it seemed to be just what it needed to give it a little boost. My husband and I loved it and look forward to having it again. Thank you for posting!!

    • Toni Dash says

      I’m so glad Heather! We too whipped up a batch. Glad you doctored to your taste. As you probably know the flavors of curry powders vary considerably (as do people’s palates for spice) so always better to add more if you love it. Best of all things in 2013 to you! Thanks for reading.


  1. […] looks amazeballs and I’d definitely eat it on a cold day. From Toni at Boulder Locavore. Here is the […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *