Every time I prepare beef soup I am flooded with childhood memories of growing up in Sheffield, Jamaica. Memories of me trekking to the butcher shop(s) on Friday afternoon to buy meats, including soup bones for Saturday soup. In our small town that meant 3 stops. There was Miss Ellen’s slaughterhouse for tripe and cow skin. Mas Cornie’s (everyone in the islands has an alternate name) butcher shop for pork. And my personal favorite Mas Andrew’s shop for beef. Once the meat and other groceries were secured it was time to head home.
On most Saturday afternoon you could find my cousins and I under the big pear (avocado) tree in our yard waiting on the beef soup to finish. Pumpkin Beef Soup or beef soup as most Jamaicans call it is an enduring favorite for many islanders. As its name implies pumpkin beef soup is flavored with beef and pumpkin If you have ever enjoyed beef soup made with fresh, free range, grass fed beef you can understand my sentiment. But, you don’t need fresh organic beef to get the rich robust flavor of this favorite Caribbean soup. All you need are a couple meaty soup bones or a few chunks of stewing beef and a couple fresh short ribs plus some calabaza squash a few veggies, some fresh herbs, plus a pack of pumpkin flavored soup mix and voila, you’re in business.
- In a large pot over medium heat; add the beef bones, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper and ½ of the diced pumpkin. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir well, cover the pot and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cover, stir and add 2 cups of water. Replace the cover and let the meat cook for at least 30 minutes check for tenderness. The meat should be about halfway cooked.While the meat finishes cooking, about 30 minutes, wash and cut the vegetables. After meat cooks; add remaining vegetables and 3 cups of water. Stir well, cover and let soup cook for 15 minutes while you prepare the dumplings. After 15 minutes add the dumplings to the pot and stir.When soup begins to boil add escallion, noodle packet, thyme and pepper. Add water as desired (1-2 cups should be enough for a thick hearty broth), stir well, replace cover and let soup simmer for another 12 to 15 minutes.Stir well before serving.
½ lb. Jamaican white yam
½ lb. Jamaican yellow yam
1 lg. turnip, diced
1 lg. cho-cho (chayote), diced
1 habanero pepper, uncut