Pot liquor, the flavorful liquid leftover after cooking down a pot of greens, is the base of this hearty collard greens soup. It’s also chock full of tender beans and veggies.
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Pot Likker soup. That’s the real name of this soup. But how many people outside of the South know what pot likker is? Not many.
Pot liquor, pot likker, or pot liquor?
Pot likker, also known as pot liquor or potlikker, is the liquid leftover after cooking down a pot of greens — collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens. Greens have to cook for several hours to become tender. All that cooking concentrates the flavors. Some people drain the leftover liquid and dump it down the drain. Smart people know that’s where to good stuff is.
How to Make Pot Liquor Collard Greens Soup
Just like a pot of greens, collard greens soup does need to simmer for a couple hours. But it’s a set-it-and-forget-it kind of meal. Dump everything in a stock pot some cold, lazy Sunday afternoon, simmer it over low heat on a back burner and a few hours later, dinner is ready.
Start by washing your collard greens thoroughly. Greens can have dirt and grit at the base of the stems … not something you want in your soup. Rinse the leaves completely, then remove the tough inner stem by folding the leaf in half and cutting out the center stem with a sharp knife. Throw the stems away and chop up the leaves.
Next, place a couple of ham hock of a hambone in a large stock pot and cover with about 1 quart of water. Add a can of diced tomatoes and seasoned lima beans. If you can’t find seasoned lima beans, it’s not the end of the world. Substitute with plain canned lima beans instead.
Next, add a can of field peas and snaps. Field peas are beans that are similar to blackeye peas, but a little firmer. The “snaps” are basically green beans. Next, add a can of green beans and a can of Hoppin’ John. If you’re not familiar with Hoppin’ John, it’s a combination of black-eyed peas, tomatoes and onions.
Add one cup of Bloody Mary mix. I like the added flavor from the seasonings in Bloody Mary mix versus tomato juice, but you can substitute one for the other. We’re also adding a little apple cider vinegar to help break down collard leaves so they are nice and tender. Last ingredient is sliced okra. Fresh or frozen okra will work. This will help to thicken up the broth nicely.
Bring all of this to a boil over medium high heat. Stir in your washed and chopped collard greens. Then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours until the collards are tender and the meat from the ham hock is falling off the bone. Remove the ham hocks or the hambone and set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bone and add it back to the pot. Simmer just long enough to heat the ham through, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stick-to-your ribs collard greens soup is perfect on a cold winter day. I like to serve it with a wedge of freshly baked cornbread.
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Pot Liquor Collard Greens Soup
- 1 bunch collard greens
- 3-4 smoked ham hocks or hambone
- 1 quart cold water
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 15 ounce can seasoned butter (lima) beans
- 1 15 ounce can field peas and snaps
- 1 15 ounce can black-eyed peas
- 1 15 ounce can Hoppin’ John
- 1 cup Bloody Mary mix
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup sliced fresh or frozen okra
- Thoroughly wash the greens to remove any grit. Remove the center stem and tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Set aside.
- Add the remaining ingredients into a large stock pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Add collard greens. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 ½ - 3 hours or until the collard greens are tender and the meat from the ham hocks is easily remove from the bone.
- Remove the ham hocks or hambone. Once cool enough to touch, pull the meat from the bones and shred. Add the meat back to the pot and stir to combine and heat through.
- Season with salt and pepper.