Jamaican Olympian Veronica Campbell-Brown (r) buying soup outside the National Stadium prior to the Jamaica Invitational meet during the ‘Iaaf Day in the Life’ on May 4, 2009 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Dec. 11, 2015: Soups are classified as comfort food and some of the heartiest and tastiest soups in the world are in the Caribbean region.
Caribbean soups are hearty soups because with exception of two, all are filled with meats or fish, ground provision like yam and dasheen, dumplings and vegetables. They are thick and are served as lunch or dinner. The lighter soups are usually served as the soup course in a big meal.
Soups are a very popular meal in the homes of Caribbean nationals the world over and they take great pride in choosing the fresh ingredients for each soup they prepare. These ingredients include meats, ground provisions, coconut milk, herbs, spices and scotch bonnet peppers.
Some of the important herbs and spices include pimento, scallion and thyme.
Soups are made from Caribbean pumpkin, green vegetables and peas – red peas, Gungo, split peas, broad beans, black eye peas, cow peas and lentils.
The green vegetables that are used to make soups in the Caribbean are calaloo, okra, and dasheen leaves. Depending on the type of soup, other vegetables are also used. These include carrots, choyote, pumpkin, celery and turnip.
Depending on the soup – various meats are also used including goat head, feet and tripe, beef, cow feet, cow skin, cow cod (the penis of the cow which is considered an aphrodisiac), chicken, chicken feet, fish, fish head, oxtail, pigs tail, salted beef, turkey and boiled eggs.
Because soups are popular among Caribbean nationals, all the ingredients must be carefully selected before starting to cook the soup.
Each soup that is prepared is specifically prepared according to the name and recipe.
Some of the names of hearty and light soups in the Caribbean are as follows:
- Red Peas Soup
- Gungo peas soup
- Split pea soup
- Cow peas soup
- Black eye peas soup
- Lentil soup
- Cow foot soup
- Cow skin soup
- Cow cod soup
- Chicken soup
- Chicken foot soup
- Pepper pot soup
- Conch soup
- Fish soup
- Fish head soup
- Fish tea
- Goat head soup
- Mannish water
- Pepper pot soup
- Goat tripe soup
- Cow tripe soup
- Beef soup
- Oxtail soup
Ital Vegetable soup contains coconut milk with no meat and sancocho chimole.
My favorite soup is Goat Head Soup. The following is my recipe:
Goat Head Soup
- 2 large fresh or frozen goat’s head (cut in small pieces 2″ cubed)
- 3 gallons tap water (room temp)
- 6 young small green bananas
- 1 1/2 lb white yam
- 1 1/2 lb yellow yam
- 1 1/2 dasheen
- I/2 small boiling bread breadfruit
- 6 large plain flour dumplings
- 3 bundles of freshly picked scallion
- 3 bundles of thyme
- 1 large scotch bonnet pepper
- 12 pimento seeds
- Salt to taste
- In a large soup pot wash goat head thoroughly
- Add 3 gallons of tap water
- Add 2 bundles scallions 2 bundles thyme and 12 pimentos
- Add Cut green banana with skins in small pieces
- Add I/2 lb dasheen (peel and cut in pieces)
- Add salt to taste
- Add scotch bonnet pepper / make a small cut along one side of pepper
- Cook until meat is for tender. Ensure liquid is above meat always. (top liquid up with only hot water, add salt if necessary)
- Add peeled yams, dasheen and dumplings
- Add the rest of the scallions
- Cook until soup thickens and all ingredients are cooked. Lower the flame and Add the rest of the thyme and cook for 5-8 minutes. Remove pepper, thyme and pimento seeds
- Serve hot.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Minna LaFortune is a trained Caribbean caterer and also president, Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora (SACD). Check out her food group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/bestfoodscaribbean/