Well folks... I would get recipe specific...but there is no point.
For every "southerner" there are at least that many recipes...
Every family has "their way" and of course it is "the best way"
I have eaten it this way...black-eyed peas cooked very done...with some thickness to the liquid but still with many of whole peas intact. Not to thick..not to thin...Served OVER white rice...Then again with the cooked rice MIXED IN with the peas to serve...Either way you wind up with a pea/rice mixture on the fork/spoon. Not unlike a red bean & rice dish.
In fact I personally don't care that much for Hoppin-John. I prefer my black-eyes just plain with cornbread etc. I save the bean/rice deal for Red beans and rice which is a whole new ball game. IMO Hoppin-John should not be a "clump" of goo on your plate like... say potato salad....nor should it be a soup.
Somewhere in there is a happy medium...I hope this helps!