Extreme Jamaican Foods: Cow Skin Soup Recipe
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.