Here’s another one of those classic soups you’ll find being made on a Saturday throughout the Caribbean, with each household putting their own personal twist on things. While it’s loving known as Red Peas Soup, the key ingredient in most cases is usually red beans (Kidney Beans). And though in this recipe I didn’t use any ground provisions (I explain more in the demo video) it’s also customary to add stewing beef and/or smoked meats as well. I went pretty basic to keep it simple for you to duplicate, while giving you maximum flavor and heartiness.
2 cups dried red beans (kidney / soaked)
1 large carrot (1/4 inch pieces)
2 scallions (chopped)
4-6 sprigs thyme
1 medium onion (diced)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 bird’s eye pepper (leave whole)
4 cloves garlic (smashed)
6 pimento berries (allspice)
2 lbs of salted pig tails (prepared)
10-12 cups water
4 medium potatoes (1/4)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup water (for dumplings)
Edit: 1 cup coconut milk
Note: Optionally you can add stewing beef, yam, sweet potato as well as other ground provisions. If pork is not your thing you can always use smoked meats and/or beef. You’ll then have to add salt though.
Wash and rinse the dried kidney beans.. then cover with water in a deep bowl. Remember as they soak they will expand to at least triple the size they were originally so add a lot of water to the bowl. Soak them overnight or for at least 2 hrs to make the cooking step go quicker. I tossed out the water they were soaked in after it did the job.
Have your butcher cut the salted pigtail into 2 inch pieces as it will be very difficult to cut with an ordinary kitchen knife. Wash, then place a deep pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes, then drain + rinse and repeat (boil again in water). The goal is to make the pieces of pig tails tender and to remove most of the salt it was cured in.
Time to start the soup. Place everything in the pot (except the flour and potato), then cover with water and place on a high flame to bring to a boil. As it comes to a boil, skim off any scum/froth at the top and discard. Reduce the heat to a gentle boil and allow it to cook for 1 hr and 15 mins.. basically until the beans are tender and start falling apart.
It’s now time to add the potato (and Yams etc if you’re adding it) as well as the coconut milk and continue cooking for 15 minutes.
Now is a good time to start making the basic dough for the spinner dumplings. Mix the flour and water (add a pinch of salt if you want) until you have a soft/smooth dough. allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then pinch of a tablespoon at a time and roll between your hands to form a cigarette shape.
Add them to the pot, stir well and continue cooking for another 15 minutes on a rolling boil.
You’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt to the pot as the remaining salt from the salted pigtails will be enough to properly season this dish. However you can taste and adjust accordingly. Lets recap the timing part of things so you’re not confused. Cook the base of the soup for 1 hr and 15 minute or until tender, then add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, then add the dumplings and cook for a further 15 minutes. Keep in mind that this soup will thicken quite a bit as it cools.
While this is not a traditional recipe to any one specific island, versions of this soup (sometimes called stewed peas) can be found throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa. A hearty bowl of this soup will surely give you the sleepies (some may call it ethnic fatigue). You can certainly freeze the leftovers and heat it up another day.