Take us away from the Caribbean, but you CANNOT take the “Caribbean” from US! Soup and Saturday is like the blue shirt and khaki shorts uniform you’d see next generation island boys smartly dressed in as they make their way to school. You expect to see it, without question. In my time on the islands anyway! We love making a massive (no matter how hard you try, the pot never seems big enough) pot of soup, rich and thick with wonderful flavors and textures. Guaranteed to be found on a Saturday bubbling away in homes across the region. Here’s one such soup..
1-2 lbs salted pigtails
1 cup dried black eyed peas
7-9 cups water (for the soup)
1 can coconut milk (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2-3 cups diced pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 allspice berries
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon veg oil
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 lime for washing pig tail
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
* Please ask your butcher to cut the pigtails for you (make sure it’s salt cured pigtails and not fresh) as the bones can cause some damage to your regular kitchen knife.
Place the salted pig tails (cut into 1-2 inch pieces) in water and the lime juice, wash well and remove any tiny hairs (if there’s any). Then place in a deep pan with about 5 cups of water (not mentioned in the recipe ingredient list) and boil for about 30-40 minutes. This will remove most of the salt and help to tenderize the pieces of meat (which can be tough). Click Here to watch a video on how to prepare the salted pigtails.
Soak your dried black eye peas in water overnight or at least 2 hours to help speed up the cooking time. If you want you can use canned black eye peas and cut the cooking time by half. Then in your soup pot heat the veg oil on a medium flame and go in with the thyme, scallions, onion, garlic, allspice berries, black pepper and parsley. Lower the heat to low and cook gently for 3-5 minutes.
Drain and add the boiled pieces of pigtails to the pot and stir well. NOTE: the residual salt from the pigtails will be enough to season this dish (my liking but do taste near the end and adjust accordingly).
Now turn up the heat and add all the other ingredients (except the stuff for making the flour dumplings) and bring to a boil. DO NOT cut the scotch bonnet pepper as we’ll just float it in the soup to get flavor and not the raw heat. So please be gentle when stirring the pot. Unless you want that KICK.. break that Caribbean sunshine open!
Be sure to remove the tips and stems from the okra.
When it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let it go for about 1 hr and 40 mins. Then make the flour dumplings (watch the video below to see how I did it).. basically mix the ingredients together with a fork, then form into a dough ball with your hands – rest for 5 minutes (cover with plastic wrap), now form little cigar shape dumplings..called spinners. Add them to the pot and cook another 5-10 minutes. Do test the peas to make sure they are tender before adding the dumplings, so you can cook it a bit longer if necessary. Add more water if you find the soup is too thick… since it will thicken more as the soup cools.
You can also add sweet potatoes, green bananas, yams, dasheen, cassava etc to this for even more goodness.. I kept it simple by using what I had on hand. Remember to remove the scotch bonnet pepper and if you want you can squeeze in a tiny bit of lime juice at the end for a little brightness (optional).