If ever there was a favorite soup for Jamaicans, Red Peas would be the one. This thick rich hearty soup is traditionally made with lots of red kidney beans and salted pigtails. It is 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. I have taken to using different CURED meats like smoked turkey in recent years. Omit the meat out completely to make a vegetarian version of this Caribbean classic.
What’s in a Name?
The ‘red peas’ in this case refers to red kidney beans that give red peas soup its signature color. I can’t speak for the rest of the Caribbean but, in Jamaica, we call most beans, peas. To make this hearty delicious soup. Cook a healthy portion of dried kidney beans with fresh herb and cured meat until the meat and beans are tender. Common meats include pigtails, corned beef, and my personal favorite smoked turkey necks.
- 8 oz dry kidney beans or 1 – 15 oz. can
- 1 lb Pigtails or corned beef cut up (can substitute Smoked Turkey neck)
- Salt and pepper , to taste
- Chopped Garlic
- 2 lg carrots chopped
- 1 med potatoes diced
- ½ lb yam , yellow or white, chopped
- 1 sm Chayote chopped
- 1 stalk scallion chopped
- 2 sprig thyme
- 1 lg Onion chopped
- 1 pk noodle soup Pumpkin or beef flavor
- 1 whole Habanero pepper uncut
- 2 gal Water
- In a large pot wash and drain kidney beans thoroughly. Add enough water to cover the beans. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 TB garlic. Cook beans over medium heat for 1 hour until they begin to soften. Add the smoked turkey. Add more water it needed to cover the meat. Add salt black pepper and more garlic. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until beans are tender. A ham bone or 1 pound of dried, salted beef requires the same cooking time and will do just as well.
- You may use canned kidney beans if you wish but, you will not have that deep rich color that is a part of traditional red peas soup. If using canned beans boil meat with salt, black pepper and lots of garlic for 45 minutes to 1 hour before adding the beans. After peeling vegetables, place in a colander or large strainer in the sink and wash with cold water before cutting/ chopping. After meat has fully cooked and beans are tender, add vegetables to the pot.
- Stir in water 1 cup at a time until desired thickness is achieved. Stir well, cover and let soup cook for 10 minutes. Prepare dumplings while soup simmers. After 10 minutes add the dumplings.For the finale, add escallion, thyme a pack of flavored noodle soup, hot pepper. Add more water if you like. Simmer for about 5 minutes before tasting. Add salt or black pepper if desired. Stir well and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Let simmer for 10 or so minutes before serving.