Collard Greens and Rice Soup

Sure to be your new fall favorite

Photo: Beatriz da Costa

I created this soup so that I could incorporate some of the most basic ingredients I love in one pot. Potlikker is the term for the juice left from cooking seasoned collard greens, and that’s what I use here to build the broth. Revered in Southern cooking, potlikker is super-flavorful and packed with vitamins and minerals. It was originally eaten for its nutritional value by enslaved people on Southern plantations, and to this day some people drink it straight! The paprika adds a hint of smokiness, and finishing it with sherry vinegar gives the soup a bit of tang. You can find bunches of collard greens at the grocery store or farmers’ market, or buy it pre-cut in a bag to make this simple recipe even quicker. After you add the collards and rice, the soup becomes thicker and less brothy. Any leftovers freeze well for future meals. —JJ Johnson, from his new cookbook, The Simple Art of Rice

Read our interview with Johnson here.


  • Collard Greens and Rice Soup (Yield: 4 servings)

    • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

    • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped

    • 2 large carrots, finely chopped

    • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped

    • 2 tbsp. tomato paste

    • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced

    • 2 tbsp. smoked paprika

    • 1 tsp. ground coriander

    • 1 tsp. ground cumin

    • 5 cups collard greens, trimmed and sliced (or one 12-oz. bag pre-cut collard greens)

    • 6 cups chicken stock

    • 2 tsp. kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

    • 3 cups cooked long grain white rice

    • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

    • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar

    • Chili oil, for serving

    • Sour cream, for serving


  1. Add the olive oil to a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, until the tomato paste has darkened slightly. 

  2. Add the paprika, coriander, and cumin and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the collard greens, chicken stock, and salt and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. The collard greens should be tender to the bite. 

  3. Add the rice, parsley, and sherry vinegar, stir well, and season with salt to taste. Simmer until the rice is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. 

  4. Serve the soup in individual bowls, topped with chili oil and sour cream.

From The Simple Art of Rice by JJ Johnson with Danica Novgorodoff, Flatiron Books 2023.