All the ingredients you love in one pot from chef J.J. Johnson: Collard greens and rice soup

Chef JJ Johnson created this soup so that he could incorporate some of the most basic ingredients he loves in one pot.

Potlikker is the term for the juice left from cooking seasoned collard greens, and that’s what he used 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.

Collard greens and rice soup

Active Cook Time: 50 minutes

Serves: 4


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
5 cups trimmed and sliced collard greens or one 12-ounce bag pre-cut collard greens
6 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste
3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon 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.

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