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Pot Likker Soup

Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey
Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 4 hrs, 3 mins
Other time 8 hrs, 30 mins
Yield Makes 6 to 8 servings
This soup would be wonderful alongside a bowl of hoppin' John. Cooking the ham hocks the day before and chilling the broth overnight will allow you to skim the fat easily.


  • 2 (1-lb.) smoked ham hocks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 (16-oz.) package fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed
  • Cornbread Croutons

How to Make It

  1. Bring ham hocks and 8 cups water to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Boil 5 minutes; drain. Reserve hocks; wipe Dutch oven clean.

  2. Sauté onion and carrot in hot oil in Dutch oven over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes or until tender; add garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add wine; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes or until wine is reduced by half.

  3. Add hocks, 8 cups water, salt, and crushed red pepper to onion mixture, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 3 hours or until ham hocks are tender.

  4. Remove hocks, and let cool 30 minutes. Remove meat from bones; discard bones. Transfer meat to an airtight container; cover and chill. Cover Dutch oven with lid, and chill soup 8 hours.

  5. Skim and discard fat from soup in Dutch oven. Stir in meat and vegetable broth.

  6. Bring mixture to a boil. Gradually stir in collards. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 to 50 minutes or until collards are tender. Serve with Cornbread Croutons.

  7. Kitchen Express Pot Likker Soup: Omit ham hocks and salt. Prepare recipe as directed in Step 2, sautéing 1/2 lb. smoked boneless pork loin, chopped, with onion and carrot. Stir in 2 Tbsp. jarred ham soup base, broth, 8 cups water, and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Gradually stir in collards; reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until collards are tender. Prep: 20 min., Cook: 53 min.

  8. Spanish Kale-and-White Bean Soup: Omit ham hocks, broth, salt, and red pepper. Sauté 1/2 lb. smoked chorizo, chopped, in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes or until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon; wipe Dutch oven clean. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 2, sautéing 1 medium potato, cubed, with onion and carrot. Stir in 1 (48-oz.) container chicken broth. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 6, substituting 1/2 (16-oz.) package fresh kale, washed and trimmed, for collards, and stirring in chorizo with kale. Stir in 1 (5-oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained, and, if desired, 1 (14-oz.) can chicken broth during last 5 minutes of cooking. Omit Cornbread Croutons. This hearty soup makes a great meal by itself, or serve it with crusty bread and cheese (we like Manchego). Prep: 20 min.; Cook: 1 hr., 6 min.