Potlikker Soup

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Pot Likker Soup

If you’re a true Southerner, then you know exactly what potlikker is.  It’s the delicious, vitamin-rich broth that’s left over when cooking greens – be they collards, turnip greens, kale, etc.  In my family,  it was often saved and we would crumble cornbread in it – some eating it for lunch the next day.  As I said, it is crazy delicious, but also full of vitamins and minerals being that most of them cook out of the greens.  In fact, many old-school doctors used to (some still do) suggest drinking potlikker for a variety of ailments but especially anemia being that the broth is rich in iron.  It’s also chock-full of vitamins K and C, though they vary depending on which green it is that you’re cooking.  Regardless, it’s good stuff and it’s good for you.

Now, I’ll admit that this isn’t TRUE potlikker soup because it doesn’t use the discarded broth from cooking greens.  BUT, it has the same great flavor, is ready in half the time, and keeps the greens in it rather than just having the leftover broth.  It’s a hearty and filling soup and one that you can customize with your own favorite beans, vegetables, and greens.  I used collards (they are my personal favorites), black-eyed peas, and tomatoes, but you could use nearly any green and any combination of beans or peas that you like.  The recipe also calls for 1-pound of chopped ham.  This can be ham steaks straight out of the refrigerated case at the grocery store (that’s what I used) or it can be leftover pieces from a large ham.  You could even use ham hocks or jowl if you wanted to.  It’s completely up to you.  You’ll just want to be sure it’s smoked ham so that it gives the soup that smokey flavor.

Now, I’m going to go ahead and stop you before you try to tell me that it’s “pot liquor” instead of “potlikker.”  See this letter to the editor, from then Lt. Governor of Georgia Zell Miller, printed in the New York Times in 1982 for reference.  🙂


Y’all enjoy!!

Pot Likker Soup - Pinterest

Potlikker Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound smoked ham, chopped (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth (2 - 32-ounce boxes)
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen chopped collard greens (or other green of your choice)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ham and onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, cook about a minute more. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the frozen greens. Bring back up to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Add the rinsed peas and drained tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 5 to 6 servings

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  1. That looks (and sounds) delicious!

    I always thought it was “pot liquor” but if Zell Miller said otherwise, I’m apt to believe him. (one of my favorite politicians ever)

  2. Reading this recipe made my mouth water.

  3. This reminds me the way my great-grandmother and my granny used to make this dish for family gatherings and reunions. I can still the remember smells and conversations and laughter while they were preparing this awesome dish. Thanks for posting this recipe.

  4. I love learning new terms. I never heard of this before and look forward to making it tonight 🙂

  5. I made this for my family last night and they loved it. I added a few noodles and used butter beans instead of black-eyed peas. This is wonderful, quick and easy. Thanks Stacey!

  6. I am always looking for great tasting low carb recipes. I can’t wait to try this out. It looks delicious!!! Thanks!!!

  7. Words can’t describe how truly delicious this soup is..amazingly good! This is my go to recipe for all my greens, soup or as a side! Stacy, my husband thanks you for posting this recipe, and if my hubby is happy than I’m happy. He was very happy!!! Thanks.

  8. Perfect for the weather we’re having in South Carolina tonight. My family gave it ‘thumbs-up’!

  9. I thought my husband and I would be eating this alone. Come to find out, the kids loved it. I will have to double it. I was lucky to get a taste. Next time, I am going to cook it with Tasso instead of the ham. I think it will be great.

  10. This recipe looks awesome. I plan to try it for our church’s Lenten Wednesday Soup Suppers (since my husband won’t eat greens. I grew up eating collard greens, mustard greens or turnip greens at least once a week. Thanks for posting the recipe. I found you on Facebook with your Red Beans and Rice recipe. I plan to order your cookbook, too.

  11. I love Potlikker Soup! I have made the turnip version using only canned veggies and smoked sausage several times. Anxious to try this one with ham and frozen greens, it’s gotta be just as good! And, hot cornbread is a definite must with this soup! Southern eatin’ at its best!!

  12. Connie Quintana says:

    My Mama called it potlikker too but she also called the juice in which she cooked lima beans, butter beans, or any kind of beans potlikker. My Southern California husband has learned to LOVE any kind of greens and beans and he knows now what potlikker is.

  13. I made this for dinner tonight. It is amazingly delicious. I substituted lentils for the black eyed peas though. We currently live in Germany so frozen greens are my only option. I was so happy to see a recipe that called for frozen instead of fresh.

  14. I just made this and it was absolutely fantastic! I could eat it every day! Thank you for an easy, wonderful recipe! 🙂

  15. Shared on FB. Love your recipes! 🙂

  16. Lol at the letter to the NYT. The link I followed spelled it Potlickker which was a variation I hadn’t seen before. Po-tay-to, pa-tah-to.

  17. I made this last night with field peas rather than black eyed peas and used rotel tomatoes instead of diced canned tomatoes.. and served it over white rice.. it was good.. but tonight it tasted even better… leftover foods tend to taste better the next day..

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