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Jamaican Red Pea (Kidney Bean) Soup Recipe

Carolee is a passionate writer with a love for learning and teaching. She is a published author, poet, blogger, and content creator.

Red pea soup with pig's tail.

Red pea soup with pig's tail.

This Jamaican-style red pea soup is loved by all Jamaicans. It can be made with meat or as a vegetarian dish. In Jamaica, we call red kidney beans "red peas," and they are used to make so many dishes. But the three dishes that the red peas are mostly known for are Jamaican-style rice and peas, stewed peas, and the infamous red kidney bean soup.

Red kidney bean soup is hearty and healthy, and in some households, it is made every Saturday. I remember when I was growing up, my aunt would make soup every Saturday. Some of the soup dishes were chicken soup, beef soup, gongo peas soup, and of course the red pea soup.

This version of the red kidney bean soup is made with salted pig's tail. Now I know when Rasta1, my good friend, sees this article, he is going, "Bun fiah pon me" ("Burn fire on me" is a phrase we use to reject something we don't agree with. It's like burning an unwelcome letter).

A few of the ingredients.

A few of the ingredients.

In Jamaica, we just throw our ingredients together, but yesterday while I made the red kidney bean soup, I decided to take note of all the measurements for the purpose of this recipe. The other thing I want to point out is that Jamaicans love a rich, very red, red pea soup—so, the redder the peas, the better. Personally, I like using the round red for my rice, peas, and soup, but I got the regular kidney beans yesterday, and they weren't that red.


  • 1/2 pound dried red kidney beans (red peas)
  • 1 pound cured/salted pig's tail (optional—omit for vegetarians)
  • 1 pound yellow yam
  • 1/2 pound white potatoes
  • 1/2 pound cocoyam
  • 1 cup flour and 4 tablespoons cornmeal (for making dumplings)
  • pinch of salt for dumplings
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping teaspoon pimento seeds
  • 1 green Scotch bonnet pepper
  • water

Optional Ingredients (for Flavor)

Choose only one of the following:

  • 1 Maggi noodle soup mix
  • 1 Grace noodle soup mix
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground coriander seeds (my preference)


  1. Make sure there are no foreign bodies in your peas. Wash carefully and pour 4 to 6 cups of water along with the peas in a large pot. We use what we call a dutch pot; it's similar to the ancient kettle pot, but without the handle and the feet.
  2. Put your peas to boil on medium high, add smashed garlic and pimento seeds and cover pot. Let peas boil for about 20 minutes, then add another cup of tap water (we call this sinking the peas). As the peas boil and the water is reduced, add more. Keep checking the peas so you know when they are tender but not fully cooked.
  3. While the peas are being cooked, put 3 cups of water to boil. Cut your pig's tail into chunks (cut them in the joint) and wash them briefly under running water. Don't cut them too small or too big. When the water boils, place the pig's tail in a heatproof container and pour on the boiling water and cover. Let sit for about 30 minutes or until you need it.
  4. When the peas are tender but not soft, drain the pig's tail and add to peas. Let cook until both pig's tail and peas are cooked. The pig's tail should be firm not mushy. Refill water to 3/4 way up the pot if needed and bring to a boil again.
  5. Peel your yam, cocoyam, and potatoes. Cut them into chunks and add to pot. Cover pot and bring to a boil again.
  6. Meanwhile, make dumplings by combining flour, cornmeal and a small pinch of salt. Add water in small amounts, using your hands to bring the dough together. Keep adding water until the dough is formed and firm, but not sticky. Knead with the heels of your hand for 5 minutes, then pinch off a golf-ball-sized piece. Roll to make a ball, then flatten to 1/2-inch thickness and add to the boiling soup. Continue adding dumplings until the dough is used up.
  7. Add your washed thyme, smashed scallion, and your green Scotch bonnet pepper to your pot and cover. Bring to a boil, then turn flames down to medium. Before adding any seasonings, please taste your soup. I personally prefer it without the optional soup mixes. I like using the cumin and coriander option or just keeping it plain, depending on the flavor of the pig's tail.
  8. If salt is needed, flavor to taste. You must let the soup simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't worry if the potato gets mashed; that will make the soup thicker and richer.
  9. You will know when the soup is done when it is rich and thick and all the flavors have come together. Enjoy!
This is a pot of red pea soup that's being cooked. If you look closely, you will see the bubbles from the boiling soup!

This is a pot of red pea soup that's being cooked. If you look closely, you will see the bubbles from the boiling soup!

Please Rate This Recipe


Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on August 12, 2014:

Thank you Winifred so glad you and your family enjoyed this recipe.

winifred on August 09, 2014:

i cooked jamaican red kidney bean soup .and it saw delicious.glad i found this recipe.every one enjoyed it. i like to cook it on saturdays to..its a joy when family thank you for cooking .and say it was it..

winifred on August 09, 2014:

i tried this recipe cooking jamaican red kidney bean soup ..esp on saturday .it's a good meal for family members..they enjoyed it to the brings a joy into your life when they thank you and say it was delicious..i enjoyed it am happy i found this recipe.thank you .

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on January 03, 2013:

Hello Heather, the scotch bonnet is the same pepper before it ripens. Thanks for the tips on the coco/taro.

heather on December 31, 2012:

Is the green scotch bonnet a different type of pepper, or just a regular scotch bonnet that is picked before it turns red? I have a bunch of scotch bonnets in my freezer from my garden that I would love to use. Also, for those asking about cocoyams, in Canada I've seen them as "coco's" and are widely available at asian markets or west indian markets. You won't always find them at the bigger grocery stores.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on March 24, 2012:

Hello Nieve1279, thyme is really a very aromatic herb and I use it in almost every thing. Thanks for stopping by.

nieve1279 on March 24, 2012:

loving it,i can smell that thyme on the plate from here. thank you

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 24, 2011:

Thank you 2Bsure. I hope you try this, one of my favorites!

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on December 24, 2011:

Another great recipe Cardisa! You spice up HubPages! Thanks

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 08, 2011:

Hi Dardia, if you can't get all the ingredients just substitute. Use a different kind of yam and smoked or cured meat instead of pigs tail. It's gonna be okay.

Tanks for stopping by.

Darlene Yager from Michigan on December 08, 2011:

You just made my husband's day! He loves beans and is always looking for recipes. This looks like one I want to try. I just love soups this time of year. I hope I can get all the ingredients here. There are not a lot of Jamaican families around here. I knew one family but unfortunately, have lost touch as our families went separate ways. Claudette is a Dr and I am not sure where she practices now. Harvey was in Ohio, a basketball coach. I am not sure what Paulette and Everton are doing. I miss them they were great friends.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 08, 2011:

Thank you so much Stephanie.

I believe when writing a recipe as an article it should include some information about the recipe. I used to just post the recipe but have learned to do it right.

Stephanie Das from Miami, US on December 07, 2011:

This is a really cool recipe. When I make this, I am going to feel like I'm eating something really authentic :) You never know what you're getting in a restaurant, and I don't have any Jamaican friends to point me in the right direction. This hub has been bookmarked, and voted up! Also let me say that I like the way you write it as a recipe with the included photos.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 06, 2011:

Livelonger, Dasheen is another type of tuber similar to the cocoyams. The other name for the cocoyam is 'taro root'.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 06, 2011:

Genesis, you are a Jamaican at heart! Wow I made it last Saturday and am still craving it now. I can't get the flavor out of my mind. I think I'll make again this coming Saturday and update the photos here.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on December 06, 2011:

Cardisa: In that case, I'll opt for the humble jalapeno, which is spicy but definitely bearable. Didn't know the term 'dasheen' but it looks like we call that taro root - we can definitely get that here. Thanks for the substitution advice!

Genesis from Canada on December 06, 2011:

Great Hub Cardisa! I just finished eating a bowl of red peas soup for lunch!! This is definitely one of my favorites...

Susan In Canada the yams can be found in most grocery stores in Ontario as yellow yams. If in Toronto go to China Town or stop by any west indian store and they will most likely be available. They're not hard to find at all. Enjoy!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 06, 2011:

Hello Rjsadowski. In Jamaica we call them coco, I can't think of another name. But you can sub with a firm tuber. Use hard yams instead. Any cured/salted meat will do great. You can also add a bit of smoked meat if you like.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 06, 2011:

Hi Livelonger. Try for a pepper that wont make the soup spicy. Our green scotch bonnet is used for flavor not heat and we don't break the pepper. When the soup is done you can remove, unless you like spicy stuff. If you can't get cocoyams you can try dasheens if you can get it. Or just use 2 or 3 different kinds of firm yams.

Thanks for stopping by.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 06, 2011:

Hi Ruby, 'soup's on'. I know you are just going to love it!

rjsadowski on December 06, 2011:

Sounds good. I would love to try it. Can you use salt pork or bacon in place of the pigs tails? What are cocoyams? Is there another name for them that I might recognize?

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on December 05, 2011:

Looks delicious! OK, I'm a vegetarian, so I will follow your suggestion to omit the pig's tail. I'm a big bean fan, so I'm sure I will like this. Finding cocoyams will be tough, although I think I've seen them in local Asian markets. Scotch bonnet peppers are also difficult to find outside the Caribbean, although maybe habaneros can be used as a substitute (similar heat and color).

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 05, 2011:

I love soup. I've never had this kind but i love any kind of beans, so' soups on' Cheers

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Mljdgulley354, you can write on anything you want, that's what I do. This soup is one of my favorites. My fiancé loves when I make this. You can add coconut cream for a creamy texture.

mljdgulley354 on December 05, 2011:

Looks like I am going to have to expand my repetoire, this looks delicious. Had to bookmark to try this weekend

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Flora, you can leave out the pigs tail or use any meat of your choice. You can use canned kidney beans for a quicker soup.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Polly, any cured meat will do or none at all. The beans are nutritious all the same.

Polly all those smells make me want it to snow here so I'll have an excuse to bake and cook soup all the time!

FloraBreenRobison on December 05, 2011:

I think I'll try the vegetarian version of this even though I'm not a vegetarian. I don't know about pig's tail....

Pollyannalana from US on December 05, 2011:

I love soup and I am always working on a new recipe, don't know if I could make the same one twice, lol. Like you I don't measure and I love red beans and no meat soup but never had red beans in soup, just know it will be good. I think I will leave out the pigtail though! Maybe a little bacon instead? Mom use to add bacon to cook beans. Ah when the snow starts falling and soup boiling and bread baking. It is almost heaven! Great hub, thanks so much!


Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

I got some rest. Still a little tired but doing better. Trying to take it easy so not taking on too much writing this week. Last two weeks were hectic with writing some short stories for a client.

That story I wrote using your theme, am going to send you a copy for you to read. I wrote it for a client and he loved it.

epigramman on December 05, 2011:

..yes I was kind of concerned for you - the other day - when you said you were tired - hope you're okay Carolee.

lake erie time 4:23pm

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Hi Epigramman, I am honored that you would like me in your soup, that soup would be very spicy

Nice to see you Epi.

epigramman on December 05, 2011:

...sounds and looks yummy Miss C - and you always present us with a world class hub when it comes to food preparation and the enjoyment of it - although to be quite honest I would prefer to have you in my soup!

lake erie time 4:12pm

Brandon Lobo on December 05, 2011:

Yup :) I can't wait to try it out :D

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Hi Ann, thanks for stopping by. I am sure you will like this one, it's definitely the season for it.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Lobobrandon, I guarantee you will love it. You can make your own variation too.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ann Wilmer-Lasky from Roswell, New Mexico on December 05, 2011:

Hi, J.S. shared this on Facebook. This is definitely the season for soup. Voted up and useful.

Brandon Lobo on December 05, 2011:

Oh I'd love to try this out.. It's been ages since I've tried red beans :)

Will certainly give it a try this weekend - I got a whole week to get red beans!!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Susan, just ask a Jamaican in Canada to find the ingredients for you. You may know the cocoyam by another name or you can leave it out. You can also use other kinds of firm yam if you like. Smoked meats are great to use. You can used cured beef as well.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on December 05, 2011:

Soup YUM! I may have a problem finding a cured pigstail but I'll asked my local butcher. The cocoyam I am not familiar with and not sure I've ever seen one. I just noticed a comment you wrote about using smoked hock. This I know I can find. This soup looks delicious. Have bookmarked it and will try to find those cocoyams. Maybe my son can find them in Toronto for me.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Hi Sholland,

Yes it's a very tasty soup sometimes we add coconut milk too, to make it more creamy!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

Hi Hazelwood,

The pigs tail is salted and cure but doesn't really have the smokey flavor. You can used the smoked hock too, that will give a great flavor!

Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on December 04, 2011:

Looks beautiful and the ingredients are interesting and tasty choices! Thanks for sharing!

hazelwood4 from Owensboro, Kentucky on December 04, 2011:

This recipe sounds really good! Do pig tails taste like smoked ham hocks? Sounds really good! Thank you for sharing and I will look forward to reading more of your recipes!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 04, 2011:

Hi Will, she is going to love this. Thanks for reading.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 04, 2011:

Hi Pamela, you can use smoked chicken or some other cured meat if you like. Thanks for reading.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 04, 2011:

Hi J.S., thanks for the compliment. I love fava beans. I tend to make stuff sound I can't help it.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on December 04, 2011:

I printed this one. My wife loves soup!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 04, 2011:

This looks like a good meal except I have never eaten a pigs tail and not sure I want to. I love beans however, so I would probably try the vegetarian style.

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on December 04, 2011:

I really like how you can weave Jamaican culture into this recipe. That is quite a talent and creates an interesting article Cardisa! I like most bean varieties and enjoy Red Kidney Beans. I also like pea soup, but the Green kind. Have you ever heard of (Portuguese) Fava Beans? They can be fried or baked and lightly salted. They are very delicious. I am sure I will enjoy your recipe. Thanks for sharing on Google+. Voting up and sharing.


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