Jamaican Red Pea (Kidney Bean) Soup Recipe
Red Peas Soup With Pigstail
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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 the red kidney beans "red peas," and they are used to make so many dishes. But the three dishes that the red peas are known mostly for are Jamaican-style rice & 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 pigs 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).
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 lb dried red kidney beans (red peas)
- 1 lb cured/salted pigs tail (optional - omit for vegetarians)
- 1 lb yellow yam
- 1/2 lb white potatoes
- 1/2 lb 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
- a very large pot
The following are optional for flavor
- 1 Maggi noodle soup mix
- or a Grace noodle soup mix
- or 1 teaspoon coarsely ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground coriander seeds (my preference)
- Make sure there are no foreign bodies in your peas. Wash carefully and pour 4 to 6 cups of water along with 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.
- Put your peas to boil on medium high, add smashed garlic and pimento seeds and cover pot. Let peas boil for about 20 minutes than 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 nut fully cooked.
- While the peas is being cooked put 3 cups of water to boil. Cut your pigs 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 pigs tail in a heat proof container and pour on the boiling water and cover. Let sit for about half hour or until you need it.
- When the peas are tender but not soft, drain the pigs tail and add to peas. Let cook until both pigs tail and peas are cooked. Pigs tail should be firm not mushy. Refill water to 3/4 way in pot if needed and bring to a boil again.
- Peel your yam, cocoyam, and potatoes. Cut them into chunks and add to pot. Cover pot and bring to a boil again. Meanwhile make dumplings by combining flour, cornmeal and a small pinch of salt. Pour water in small amounts, using your hand bring dough together. Keep adding water until dough is formed and firm, not sticky. Kneed with heels of hand for 5 minutes then pinch of a golf ball size piece, roll to make a ball then flatten to 1/2 inch thickness and add to boiling soup. Continue adding dumplings until dough is used up.
- 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 without the soup mixes. I like the cumin and coriander option or plain depending on the flavor of the pigs tail.
- If salt is needed flavor to taste. You must let soup simmer for another 30 - 45 minutes, stirring consonantly. Don't worry if the potato has mashed that will make the soup thicker and richer.
- You will know when the soup is done when it is rich and thick and all the flavos have come together.