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Extreme Jamaican Foods: Cow Skin Soup Recipe

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

The completed cow skin soup.

The completed cow skin soup.

Almost every Jamaican loves soup, and almost every household makes it a weekly Saturday tradition. Our soups are hearty and filling—a one-pot meal. When cows are slaughtered, their skin is not just made into leather in Jamaica but also consumed for its richness and nutrition. This part of the cow makes a wonderful stew or soup and is loved by many people. We call this Jamaican recipe "cow skin soup."

This soup is said to return strength to the person who consumes it. The men in the family are said to enjoy this soup more, even though it's one of my favorites.

How the Cow Skin Is Prepared by the Butcher

After the skin is removed from the animal, the skin is then roasted slightly over a wood fire and scraped with a knife to remove the hair/fur. The skin is scraped until all traces of animal hair have been removed. It becomes smooth and half-roasted and has a smokey smell. The skin is burned. I am not sure of the exact method, but I would not suggest that you try to skin a cow at home! You can, however, try making this cow skin soup!

My Saturday Dinner!

One Friday, our friend the butcher sent my fiancé 2 1/4 pounds of cow skin, and we were delighted. I immediately knew what I would do with it. Now, 2 1/4 pounds of cow skin is a lot for two people and can be made into two meals. So, today I will share with you the soup recipe, and next time I will make a stew and share with you again.

This recipe serves 6 to 8 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds cow/beef skin, cut in chunks
  • 1 pound yellow yam, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 pound carrots, sliced somewhat thickly
  • 1/2 pound white potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 large chayote, cut into chunks (in Jamaica, we call this chô-chô)
  • 1 pound pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour for dumplings
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 1 heaping teaspoon pimento seeds
  • 1 green Scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 packet soup mix OR bouillon OR 1/2 teaspoon each cracked cumin and coriander seeds
  • salt to taste
  • water

Instructions

  1. In a large stock or soup pot, add 6 to 8 cups water and set on medium high flames. Add washed pimento seeds and smashed garlic.
  2. Cut cow skin into desired size (a double-bite-size is preferred, meaning you cut it once for 2-bite pieces). Wash thoroughly (I wash 3 times to get rid of any burned particles and extra smokiness).
  3. When the water is boiling, add the cow skin to the pot and cover. Let the meat cook until tender (about 1 hour). Add more water if needed.
  4. Meanwhile, peel and cut the pumpkin into chunks. When the cow skin is tender but not soft, add the pumpkin and let the soup continue to cook until the pumpkin is somewhat mashed and the cow skin is a little softer (about 45 minutes).
  5. Peel yam and cut into chunks, peel and slice carrots, peel and cut chayote and potatoes, and add them all to your pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Let cook for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. In the meantime, make dumplings by adding a pinch of salt to the flour and pouring in water in small amounts to form a dough. Make golf-ball-size dumplings and add them to the soup until all the dough is used up. Cover and bring to a boil.
  7. Note that the water must be enough to cover the vegetables with at least 1/2 inch to spare. So, add more water if needed. If there seems to be too much water, turn the flames to high and bring it to a boil, then cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
  8. Add your seasoning: scallion, thyme, pepper and packet soup mix OR bouillon OR cracked cumin and coriander seeds. Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium low. Let the soup continue to cook, stirring constantly. Add salt to taste if needed.
  9. Let the soup simmer for another 30 minutes, then turn the flames off. You will know when the soup is done when it has thickened and all the flavors have come together.

Photo Guide

Some of the ingredients.

Some of the ingredients.

Chopping the vegetables.

Chopping the vegetables.

Preparing all of the ingredients.

Preparing all of the ingredients.

Chopped veggies.

Chopped veggies.

Some of the seasoning.

Some of the seasoning.

The soup packet.

The soup packet.

Cooking the soup.

Cooking the soup.

Enjoy this soup!

Enjoy this soup!

Comments

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on May 27, 2014:

Hi Lily, you can probably get it at your local butcher shop.

Lilly on May 27, 2014:

I like beef skin. where can I order it? Thanks!!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on March 29, 2014:

Hi Tia, thanks for stopping by my hub. I hope you like this recipe. At some point I'll share some other cow skin recipes on my blog whenever I make the dish. Please let me know how this one turns out.

Tia Adumike from Pottstown, Pennsylvania on March 29, 2014:

Hi Cardissa, how are you. I'm new to this site, in fact just came on today looking for a cow skin recipe, lol. I was delighted to find this one on here. My husband is Nigerian and people from West Africa in general eat cow skin a lot. I have tasted it and the way they make it to me is not very flavorful and its very tough. So I wanted to get a cow skin recipe that make the skin tender and flavorful that I can try to serve to my husband that we both would enjoy. Thank you so much! By the way I love Jamaican food, I have been eating it for about 25 years now.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 21, 2011:

Hi Jackie, I knew the name was familiar...lol

Most Jamaican soups have both the pumpkin and yellow yams. The only soups we don't put the pumpkin in is peas soups. A smoked meat would work well to replace the cow skin.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 20, 2011:

Yellow yams and pumpkin in soup I don't think I have ever heard of but I just bet would be good.Give it just a bit of sweetness. I try many different things since being here and I think I have loved them all. Well don't think I can get the skin so will have to settle for just the beef. Thank you so much Cardisa!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 12, 2011:

You could use smoked meat Susan, smoked chicken would be great!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on December 12, 2011:

Finding the beef skin may be a task. But this soup sounds delicious.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 12, 2011:

Hi Pamela, yes, smoked chicken gives it that similar smokey flavor.

Thanks for stopping by.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 12, 2011:

This looks absolutely delicious. I also think I would have to use chicken. Thanks for the recipe.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 11, 2011:

Hi Ruby, you could make it with regular chicken and for the smoky flavor you could use smoked chicken.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 11, 2011:

I could do this with chicken. I bet it would be good. Thank's Cardisa..

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 11, 2011:

Hi Nell, try it with the crispy ham skin after Christmas or smoked chicken. It has a smokey flavor from the roasted skin, really delicious.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 11, 2011:

Hey there Flora. You surprise me, I thought you would dislike this one because of the cow skin...lol

Thanks, this was the second Avatar I used after joining HP. I needed a change again.

Nell Rose from England on December 11, 2011:

Hi, this is totally different and sounds delicious, it certainly looks good, I would give it a go if only they used this part of the meat over here, nice one!

FloraBreenRobison on December 11, 2011:

I will have to try this. I love your new avatar.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 11, 2011:

Thanks Katrina, I hope you make it sometime, I am sure you will enjoy it!

Thanks for stopping by.

katrinasui on December 11, 2011:

Looks delicious:) Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 11, 2011:

Leaderofmany, I know having that memory would make it hard for you to eat anything from the cow. You could substitute with smoked chicken.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 11, 2011:

Thanks Josephine. Have a great Sunday!

Leaderofmany from Back Home in Indiana on December 11, 2011:

Maybe if I didn't know it was cow skin I could eat it. I think of the cow laid out across the bed of my Grandparents of their favorite dairy cow and it makes not want to try it. Very interesting and I learned something new today.

Josephine on December 11, 2011:

Looks yummy!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 11, 2011:

Kelly, how come you aren't signed in!

Chicken skin has too much fat and tastes funny. Smoked beef, smoked chicken or some other smoked meat would be great!

realhousewife on December 10, 2011:

Sounds great! I don't know if I could get cow skin but I bet chicken skin might be a great alternative for flavor. I. Love soup and tis the season! Its 19* F here!!!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 10, 2011:

Thanks! I just had another bowl...lol

Innuentendre from Houston, Texas on December 10, 2011:

delicious!