The ‘red peas’ in the name refers to red kidney beans that give the soup its signature color. We call most beans peas. It’s a Jamaican thing. Traditionally a hearty portion of dried kidney beans are slow cooked with fresh herb and cured meat until the meat and beans are tender. Common meats include pig tails, corned beef and my personal favorite smoked turkey necks.
If ever there was a favorite Jamaican soup, Red Peas would be the one. This thick rich hearty soup is traditionally made with lots of red kidney beans and salted pig tails then finished with vegetables, dumplings and ground provisions. The standard Caribbean soup blend of yam, potatoes, dumplings and other veggies and herbs are added after the peas and meat are cooked. In recent years I have taken to using different CURED meats like smoked turkey or leaving the meat out completely to make a vegetarian version of this Jamaican classic.
Let your local availability determine what ground provisions you add to your soup. Carrots, potato, dumpling, thyme, allspice and scallion or onion are absolute musts. The rest can be substituted as your taste and locale dictates.