About 10 years ago I had my first culinary encounter with tomato and rice soup while visiting Caron’s grandparents and though I wasn’t (so I thought..silly me) a fan of tomato soup, the plump grains of rice in it got my attention. I could not believe I was asking for seconds even though my bowl was only half the way through. I had always reflected back to that dish, but for some reason I never ventured to ask Heddi (ma-mere) for the recipe. Somehow I’m glad I didn’t as when it came time to prepare it it this past summer when we had an abundance of vine ripe tomatoes in our garden, I decided to put my own twist on this tomato and rice soup I first fell in love with a decade ago.
Tomato choka is one of my favorite ways to enjoy ripe tomatoes, so I thought I’d mimic the same technique in making this rice and tomato soup for those rich roasted and spicy flavors. Basically, here’s my take on tomato choka soup.
3 large tomatoes
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken stock (or veg)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup parboiled brown rice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
pinch ground coriander
* If you don’t have access to a grill as I did, toss the tomatoes in about 2 tablespoon of olive oil (not mentioned in the ingredient list) and roast them in your oven at 400 F for about 30 minutes or so. You will notice that I used chicken stock, but the recipe is posted in the vegetarian section. For vegetarians, please use vegetable stock and it will be a complete one-pot vegetarian meal.
As with making traditional tomato choka I placed the ripe tomatoes on my grill, along with a whole green scotch bonnet pepper to cook. The pepper will take about 2-3 minutes (remove), but give the tomatoes about 20-30 minutes, flipping them so they char evenly. Yes, it’s normal for them to look burnt on the outside.
Remove the tomatoes off the grill and place in a bowl to cool. They will release a lot of liquid as they cool, thus the reason for having them in a bowl so you can save this lovely liquid to add to the pot later. When they’re cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin and give them a rough chop.
Heat the olive oil on a med/low flame in your soup pot and gently cook the diced onion, thyme and garlic for about 4 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. By adding the tomato paste at this point the sort of frying will increase the natural sugars in the paste and give the dish a lovely sweetness.
Now turn up the heat and add all the other ingredients except the rice. Bring to a boil.
Wash the rice to remove any grit and extra starch. Do so by placing the rice in a strainer and run cool water over it while moving it around until the water runs clear. Or you can place the rice in a deep bowl, top with water, then massage the grains of rice. The water will get cloudy. Drain, repeat until the water runs clear. As the pot comes to a boil add the rice, then turn the heat down so you have an active simmer going.
Let it cook for 20-25 minutes or until the rice grains are plump and fully cooked.
Skim off any sort of reside off the top of the pot as it cooks and discard. Remember to taste for salt and adjust accordingly. If you used a whole scotch bonnet pepper as I did, you now have 2 options. Remove it so you don’t have that ‘kick’ or burst it open to reveal that Caribbean sunshine. WARNING! It will be live!
Top with some chopped parsley and get ready to serve with a thick slice of coconut bake or bread. This is not your typical Caribbean soup which is usually thick with ground provisions and salted meats (for the most part), but I assure you that this absolutely delicious, quite filling and a great twist on traditional tomato soup and rice soup.
I must mention that I used chicken broth in this recipe and you’ll find it’s listed under the vegetarian section of the website so please use vegetable stock to make this fully vegetarian as I didn’t have any left in the pantry when I was putting the recipe together. If you can’t source Jamaican callaloo (chorai bhaji), any ‘greens’ will work (spinach, collard greens… even the green parts of pak choi (bok choy) or Swiss chard).
The flavors from the fresh herbs, scotch bonnet pepper, onion and the textures of the sweet potato and callaloo, will all combine for an excellent Caribbean inspired soup.
3 cups chicken broth
1 can (540 mL) Bean Medley
1 large onion diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
8 cups Jamaican callaloo
1/4 cup parsley leaves with stems
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper.
1 diced sweet potato
2 scallions (spring / green onions)
1 tablespoon thyme
Notes. use veg stock for the veg version of this recipe. If you don’t have coconut oil, use extra virgin olive oil.
Start by prepping the ingredients.. wash, chop and dice. The sweet potato is peeled and diced as you would any regular potato and try to cube them in the same sizes. Remember to wear gloves when handling the scotch bonnet pepper, wash your hands with soap and do not include any of the seeds. That’s where the real fire is when it comes to such lethal peppers.
Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot on medium heat, then add the diced onion, garlic, parsley, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. Turn the heat down to low and let that gently cook for about 3-5 minutes. We’re creating a lovely base for the soup at this point.
Wash, drain and trim the callaloo (cut into smaller pieces).. feel free to use any tender stems if you wish. Tough stems will not cook down and will give the soup a woody texture. Now add all the chopped callaloo to the pot and give it a good stir. It will wilt down as it cooks.
Add the cubed potatoes and all the other ingredients to the pot. Bring that up to a boil and reduce with the cover slightly ajar to a rolling boil for about 20-25 minutes.
I don’t like using beans straight out of the can, so I usually place the beans in a strainer and let cool water run over them to remove the grit and excess sodium in packed in.
Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. The vegetables will still have their shape so it’s now up to you (if you want to thicken it up a bit as I did), to use a stick blender and give it a couple quick buzz. DO NOT over do it. If you don’t have a stick (immersion) blender, you can take about a cup or 2 (not all) out and place it in your traditional blender and give it a couple pulses. Then return it back to the pot and give everything a good mix. If you don’t have either you can use a whisk or swizzle stick to break things down a little so it thicken up a bit.
This recipe is enough for 4-6 people as a starter and 3-4 as a full meal with some coconut bake or your favourite bread… please serve hot.
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This soup follows on the North American way of roasting root vegetables during the colder months to intensify their flavors and to bring out the natural sweetness. I’ve been calling Canada home in excess of 20 years, so it’s only natural that I use this technique, but with a Caribbean twist. You’ll see me add some richness with coconut milk and the Caribbean sunshine (scotch bonnet peppers) will make an appearance.
Unlike the heavy soups laden with ground provisions we are accustomed to in the Caribbean, this soup will be much lighter, but very filling and quite comforting.
1 acorn squash (butternut squash works well also)
1 large sweet potato
3 cups veg stock
1 large shallot
4 cloves of garlic (with skin)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup coconut milk
Note: you can also add your fav herbs and top with freshly grated nutmeg and chopped chives.
Cut the sweet potato, squash and shallot in half. Then using a spoon, scoop out the inside of the squash and discard. Now brush each (cut side) with the olive oil and place then cut side facing down on your roasting tray, along with the garlic (skin on). Place the tray in a 375F heated oven for about 35-40 minutes.
In the meantime you can dice the scotch bonnet pepper, very finely. Remember to wear gloves when handling such hot peppers and do wash your hands with soap and water before touching anywhere. Don’t use any of the seeds or white membrane directly surrounding the seeds as that’s where the raw heat will be.
Allow the roasted vegetable to cool a bit so we can easily handle them, then using a spoon, scoop out all the flesh and place into your soup pot. Remember to remove the skins from the garlic and shallots and place them in the pot as well.
Basically all the other ingredients listed above goes into the pot at this point. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes (remember to stir every 4-5 minutes) it’s time to puree a bit and make smooth. I used my submersion blender and went at it for about 1 minute. I ended up with a smooth and silky soup. Do taste for salt and adjust accordingly. If you don’t have a submersion blender you can (make sure to allow it to cool a bit first) use a traditional blender to puree it. You can then place back in the pot and reheat a bit since we had to cool it down so it’s safe to work with in the blender.
Top with chopped chives and make sure you have some good bread to enjoy this lovely roasted vegetarian soup. There will be enough here for about 6 people as a side dish or starter and 4 people as a complete meal with toasted bread.
Ladies and gents, I must confess that I’m not a fan of cow heel (cow foot or bull foot) soup and if it were up to me, this recipe would not have been found here as I normally don’t cook this. However, a fan on the CaribbeanPot.com Facebook page sent in a request and being the good boy I am.. I got the pot bubbling. Clevlan, this one is for you my brethren.
2 lbs cow heel *
1 teaspoon salt
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2 carrots (cut in big pieces)
1 cup yellow split peas
4 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon veg oil
Okra (about 8-10)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 pimento berries (optional)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
12-16 cups water
1 cup diced pumpkin
- 1 cup flour (all purpose)
- pinch salt
Notes: Make sure the cow heel is clean and cut into small pieces for easier cooking. Keep the scotch bonnet whole or burst open at the end if you want the kick from the heat it possesses.
Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pot on medium heat, add the diced onion, garlic, pimento berries, thyme, black pepper for 3-5 minutes and then add the cow heel. Stir well, then add the yellow split peas, salt, carrots and cover with water.. raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hrs or 1/2 hr if using a pressure cooker. Drop the scotch bonnet pepper whole as it simmers.
As it simmers you’ll notice stuff gather at the top of the pot, skim and discard. After 2 hours the peas should be tender to the point where it will melt away and start thickening the soup. The pieces of cow heel will now be tender (and go gelatinous) , so it’s time to start adding the other ingredients. You can certainly add yams, dasheen, eddoes, green bananas etc, but I tried to keep this soup simple.
After adding the okra, potato, chopped scallions and pumpkin, it will take about 30 minutes to finish. So in a small bowl prepare the dumplings.. the flour, pinch of salt and enough water to form a soft but firm (to touch) dough. Let that rest for 15 minutes (cover with plastic wrap). Then the last 10 minutes of cooking, pinch small pieces of dough and roll between your hands to form a small cigar. Add to the pot and let cook for the final 10 minutes.
You will definitely need a large pot as no matter how hard you try.. when making any Caribbean soup, it always turns out to be a huge feast. There will be enough here for at least 8 people as a main dish. Taste for salt the last 4 minutes and adjust accordingly. Remember you can personalize this soup with the addition of yams, sweet potato, cassava, dasheen and cooking bananas, so get creative. If you want to add additional flavor you can always add a soup mix (Grace or Maggi) to the pot the final 30 minutes of cooking, but this is really not necessary.
At the end fish out the sprigs from the thyme and don’t forget to get the scotch bonnet pepper out. I like the kick from the pepper, so I usually burst it in the soup and enjoy the explosive flavor. But proceed with caution as it will be live with that Caribbean sunshine.
As we move closer to the holiday season I’ve decided to share some tasty Caribbean inspired appetizer recipes with you all. So for the entire month of November you’ll see your taste buds challenged with some twists on traditional Caribbean dishes. But done in such a way that you can easily serve them during your holiday gatherings. We’ll start off with 3 ingredients I simply adore.. pumpkin, coconut and curry. The end result is a wicked coconut curry pumpkin soup which can be served in small bowls or shooter glasses, so you can pass them around to your guests.
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 minced garlic clove
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground coriander
4 cups diced pumpkin
1 Cup coconut milk
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
* chives for garnishing
Notes: I used the leafy part of the celery to garnish. The coconut oil was used to maintain that wonderful coconut undertone, but you can certainly use vegetable oil as well. Additionally, to keep this fully vegetarian I used vegetable stock, but you can certainly use chicken stock for an additional level of flavor.
Start off by prepping all the ingredients. Peel, wash and cube the pumpkin into 3/4 inch pieces. Dice the onion, garlic and celery and chop the scotch bonnet pepper very finely. Remember to wear gloves and wash you hands with soap immediately after handling such hot peppers. Don’t include any of the pepper seeds or white membrane surrounding the seeds as that’s where the true fire is.
Heat the coconut oil in a deep pan on medium heat then add all the fragrance building ingredients (celery, garlic and onion). Allow that to sweat down for 3-4 minutes on low heat. Then add the curry powder and ground coriander. With your heat still on low, stir so the curry gets an opportunity to toast and start coating the bottom of the pot. Grate in the ginger and allow this to cook on low for 4 minutes.
Now that we have a wicked flavor base it’s time to add the diced pumpkin and give it a good stir.
It’s now time to add all the other ingredients (salt, veg broth and coconut milk) and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a gentle simmer and allow to cook until the pumpkin pieces becomes tender and starts to fall apart (about 25 minutes).
The ideal way to serve this pumpkin soup is to have it smooth, so out came my hand blender and with about 1 minutes of working it, I had a silky soup. Try not to overwork it or you’ll end up with a frothy mess. Do remember to taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
As your guests arrive you can pour some of this coconut curry pumpkin soup in little serving bowls or in shooter glasses and serve. This soup is packed with true Caribbean flavor and I assure you that though it’s fully vegetarian, your guests will be craving every drop.
Smoked and/or salted meats are a must for a good Caribbean soup, so when my eyes crossed paths with the smoked turkey legs when we were out shopping a few days back.. let’s just say we shared a connection. Soups in the Caribbean are thick and hearty as most stews are in North America, so if this is your first time learning about how we make soups, don’t get alarmed. If you can’t source smoked turkey legs, you can certainly use necks or wings and if all fails, use any smoked meat you can source (ham bone, ham hocks..etc).
1 smoked turkey leg
1 sweet potato
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pack Grace cock soup
water (10-14 cups)
1 sweet corn
fresh thyme (4 sprigs)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
4 cloves garlic
1 cup black eye peas
1 tablespoon veg oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Optional – (flour dumplings)
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
pinch of sugar
Notes. Optional ingredients – yam, green banana, cassava.. etc. If you don’t have the Grace cock soup.. use a spicy noodle soup (Maggi) or chicken stock. You can add any greens you like (spinach, callaloo etc) or cabbage as well . And a nice addition would be some cubed pumpkin.
Chop the onion, garlic, scallions and herbs. Then heat the oil in a deep soup pot and add the chopped ingredients. Allow that to cook for 3-5 minutes on low heat. To soften the onion and create a wonderful flavor base.
Wash and drain the black eye peas (a good substitute would be yellow split peas) and add it to the pot along with the chopped carrot. Then add the smoked turkey leg and pour in the water, add the scotch bonnet pepper, salt and black pepper. Bring to a oil and reduce to a simmer.
Allow to to simmer away for 45- 60 minutes or until the peas are tender. In the meantime peel and prep the root vegetables. Using a potato peel or sharp pairing knife, remove the skin off the dasheen, eddoes, potato, sweet potato and remove the stems off the okra. Try to cut each in even sized pieces so they cook evenly. If you prepped this before it time to place it in the pot, remember to cover will cool water to prevent them from going discoloured. The corn is optional, but I like adding it. Cut each corn into 4-5 pieces and give a good rinse before adding to the pot.
After 50 minutes or so the peas should be tender and you should have a pot packed with flavour. Remove the smoked turkey leg and set aside to cool. Now gently add everything into the pot and bring to a boil, including the packet of ‘cock’ soup. If you find that the liquid does not cover the vegetables, add a bit more water.
Strip the pieces of meat off the bone and add back to the pot.. add back the bone as well for additional flavor.
Usually it takes between 25 – 35 minutes to cook after you’ve added the vegetables. You’re looking for a thick consistency and the dasheen and other vegetables should be tender to the point where it starts to fall apart. Try not to over stir or you’ll end up with porridge.
Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. If you’re adding flour dumplings, do so the last 7 minutes so they have time to fully cook. Remember that as this soup cools it will thicken further, so don’t worry if it seems a bit thin when it’s hot.
An absolute treat! This soup is loaded with goodness and don’t be surprised if you get a case of the sleepies after you’ve done damage on a bowl. Remember to fish the scotch bonnet pepper out of the pot and try your best not to burst it during cooking.. or you’ll release the dragon!
Sancoche, is one of those soups we make in the Caribbean which can be identified by various other names from island to island. Basically is a thick soup with everything but the kitchen sink in it. Loaded with ground provisions (yam, dasheen, cassava, eddoes, sweet potato.. etc), split peas, flour dumplings, coconut milk and some sort of salt meat or smoked bones for additional flavoring, it’s one of those meals where the ethnic fatigue kicks in after a bowl or two.
As a young fella growing up on the islands one of my favorite things to do, was go with friends when they were making “bush” cook. I grew up in the country and that usually meant most of our weekend off from school was spent in the outdoors. I recall swimming for hours in the river while this pot of soup would be bubbling away on three rocks made to support the pot while allowing room for fire wood beneath it. Usually set under the confines of the shade from a bamboo patch. With the cool temperature of the spring fed water as it makes it’s way down the mountain to the spot where we’d swim, a hot bowl of soup would definitely hit the spot. When it wasn’t sancoche, it would be fish broth, some sort of “wild” meat with provision or if times were hard for us to source ingredients it would be dasheen bush cooked in coconut milk and served with some massive flour/cassava dumplings.
Note: This pot of soup is enough to feed a small army. So you may want to cut back the ingredients list by half and it will serve 5-7 people as a main course. I usually freeze the leftovers, but for some reason the ground provisions does not reheat well after freezing.
1 1/2 cups split peas
2 lbs. pigtail (see notes below)
2 cups. pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 lb. eddoes
1 lb. dasheen
1 lb. yam
1 sweet potato (abt 1lb)
4 medium potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
6 cooking bananas (green fig)
12-16 small ochroes (see notes below)
1 carrot, chopped
1 bundle spinach (see note below)
5 leaves chadon beni
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs thyme (fine leaf)
1 tablespoon salt (see notes below)
1 hot pepper (I used a scotch bonnet)
1 can coconut milk (14 fl oz | 400 ml)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
16 cups water
2 packs Grace cock soup (spicy) See Notes below
Pigtail – I used salted pigtails and wish I had some salted beef to add as well. You can also use regular beef cubed, smoked bones or any sort of soup bones. I guess you could also make this with chicken as well or leave meat entirely out of it and have it vegetarian style. You’ll have to adjust the salt if you’re not using salted meats.
Spinach : The traditional thing to use would be young dasheen leaves, but since I couldn’t source any, I opted for regular spinach.
Ochroes: I used about 16 small ochroes (about 3 inches long), but all I could get was the dark green variety. Avoid those if you can and look for a lighter green variety. I find that they stand up better to the slow cooking process and the texture is a bit different than the dark green ones.
Salt : Since I used salted pigtial in this soup, I only needed about 1 tablespoon. I would suggest that you not add any salt, but taste about 15 minutes from the end and add according to your preference.
Grace Cock Soup : If you can’t get Grace Cock soup, feel free to use a couple cubes of Maggi chicken bouillon or as a matter of fact, any chicken stock/bouillon cube should work well. I use the Grace cock soup as I love the extra level of flavour it adds with it’s unique spiciness.
It looks like a lot of ingredients but as I mentioned, I’m cooking a huge pot..
The fisrt thing to do is to prepare the salted pig tails. Using a large chef knife or cleaver (or ask your butcher to cut it for you), cut into 2 inch pieces. Rinse off under cool water, then place in a deep saucepan and cover with water (not the water mentioned in the ingredients list above). Bring that up to a boil and keep it at a rolling boil for about 25 minutes. This will take some of the brine and salt the pigtails were preserved in. After the 25 minutes, drain, rinse and set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat the vegetable oil and then start adding the chopped onion, garlic, thyme, chandon beni (alternative – use 3-4 tablespoon of chopped cilantro) and scallion and cook for a few minutes on med/low heat. Then add the pieces of salted pig tail, the split peas (wash before adding) and top with about 8 cups of water. Bring this to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 45 minutes with the pot covered. This will allow the split peas and pig tail to get tender before adding the other ingredients.
While this cooks, lets get the ground provision, carrot, green banana and potatoes peeled and cut into chunks. You’ll notice that I tried my best to keep the size of each piece uniform. This will allow it to cook evenly. I cut the pieces of pumpkin a bit smaller, as I like for it to dissolve a bit while cooking so it helps to add a wonderful overall color as well as it gives it some body.
Remember to wear gloves (latex or rubber) when peeling/working with ground provisions, especially the eddoes and green bananas. Or rub some vegetable oil over your hands. This will prevent the sort of staining and avoid your hands going itchy.
After the soup base has been cooking for about 45 minutes, it’s time to add everything else. Add the ground provisions, salt, cock soup and scotch bonnet pepper (keep whole if you want the flavor and not the heat). Then trim off the stems off the ochroes and cut in 1/2 before adding to the pot. You’ll need to add a further 8 cups of water as well as the coconut milk at this point. Just make sure everything is pretty much covered by liquid.
The final step is to rinse off the spinach and give it a rough chop before adding to the pot. It will look like a lot, but it will wilt down as it cooks. Bring everything back up to a boil, cover the pot and reduce to a gentle simmer. Allow this to cook for another 45 minutes or so. Stir occasionally and don’t fret if you find that the ground provision starts to dissolve. We want this soup to be thick, like a North American beef stew.
You will notice that some stuff will start building up at the top while this boils… skim it off with a spoon and discard. Remember to taste for salt the last 15 minutes or so and adjust accordingly. For extra heat, burst the pepper near the end as well, and at this point you can remove the sprigs from the thyme.
Traditionally you’d find flour dumplings in this soup, but I simply ran out of room in my pot… yea I could hear some of you saying “where’s the dumpling Chris”. Another way to add extra flavor and some additional body to this soup, is to add a couple packs of chicken noodle soup instead of the chicken bullion or stock powder. And if you have some Goldenray butter, feel free to toss in a tablespoon or 2.
If you guys join the chat on the Facebook fan page, you’ll notice that Anthony K, made a very good observation… “you either have to try to make it or know a trini who will make it for you, (the only problem is you can’t make a small amount)…it’s great and I don’t really care for soup”. Which so true, I’ve never seen a small pot of this cooking.
Before you go, why not take a couple minutes and leave me your comments below. Even if it’s just to say hello… it’s always appreciated. And don’t forget to check out the Caribbean Cooking Videos.
The first batch of this soup I made about a month ago and it was just enough for me as I never thought anyone else in the house would care for it. When everyone else in our house think “Chicken Soup” they think about this recipe “A Hearty Chicken Soup For The Soul.” So when Tehya (middle daughter) asked to try it, I was quite pleased and a bit vex that I didn’t have more to share with her. The one thing she did say though… “dad, why is the chicken so white?”. Yup, Caribbean people hate seeing broiled or colorless meat and I guess I passed that on the her at some level.
So when she came and asked me to make another batch of this chicken soup, I was only too excited to abide. Hey, not only is my girl liking my food, but I was secretly craving a huge bowl as well.
3 lbs chicken (cut into portions)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 green bananas (cooking banana)
1 lb sweet potato
2 cups cubed pumpkin
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic sliced/crushed
1 hot pepper (scotch bonnet or habanero)
1 tablespoon salt * Check at the end to add more if necessary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
3-5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1 teaspoon Caribbean style browning)
1 lb cassava
2 packages of Grace Cock Soup
* If you can’t get Grace cock Soup, a great substitution would be the Maggi pack soup or any chicken noodle soup that’s a bit spicy. For a richer body and taste to this soup, you can also add some Goldenray butter the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remember that butter is heavy on salt, so adjust accordingly.
* Add whatever ground provision you may have or like in your soup. * You’ll need a large pot. BTW, this can easily feed about 6 adults.
I like using dark meat for this soup as it’s cooked for a long time and I find the flavor is a bit more pronounced than if I use chicken breast. However you can use white meat if you so desire. Cut into serving size pieces and wash with lemon juice (I didn’t mention this in the ingredient list) and water, then drain. Now add the oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Start adding the pieces of chicken to the pot. Yes, I know my Trinbagonian people are probably saying “you eh season the meat man”. We’ll get to that a bit later. Brown as best as you can for a few minutes, turning each piece periodically.
After a few mninutes of browning (trust me it will never really get brown), add the black pepper, scallion, onion, garlic, thyme and parsley to the pot. Give that a good stir.
Allow that to cook on low/medium heat a bit. So we can have time to peel and cube the other ingredients (potato, carrot, sweet potato and green banana, pumpkin and cassava) . Give those things a rinse under cool water and drain. Now add it all to the pot and stir.
Also add the tomato paste and/or the Caribbean browning. Cover with water and bring to a boil on high heat. As it comes to a boil, add the cock soup, salt and the hot pepper. Leave the pepper whole and at the end you can either burst it to release the heat or you can fish it out to have things a bit milder. Now reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 30-40 minutes. Basically until the potatoes etc starts melting away and form a nice rich and thick broth. You can cook with the lid off or slightly ajar.
If you’re lucky enough to have some Goldenray butter, add the last 5 minutes or so of cooking and give it a minute or 2 before you check to see if there’s enough salt. As the Goldenray is a bit salty as well. If you’re using a basic chicken noodle soup mix to add instead of the cock soup, try to get one that’s low in sodium. so the overall dish is not salty.
You can be creative with this by adding other ingredients you like in soup, like.. dumplings, macaroni, beans or peas and other ground provisions. Some pieces of corn on the cob would probably work well in this soup as well.
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Soup is a common Saturday meal throughout the islands that make up the Caribbean and it’s one of those one pot meals that truly brings family and friends together. When we first immigrated to Canada there were but a sprinkle of people with Caribbean heritage in Hamilton. My little group of friends included a fella from Jamaica, one from Dominica and how could I forget my good friend Carlos who was from Barbados. We did just about everything together, especially since when you’re new to a country you tend to latch on to anything which gives you the slightest security and comradeship of “home”. I love my Trinbagonian food and it’s something I could never repeat to my mom or grandmother, but this soup was the best I’ve ever had. Between Carlos, his sister and I, I think we ate the entire pot – no joke! The last time I was in Barbados I searched in vain for a restaurant in Bridgetown hoping to find a spot where I could sample some home style soup… no luck.
This soup cannot compare to that soup which is forever stuck in my mind from all those years ago, but when my grandmother would make this we’d eat bowlfuls.
1/2 lb salted cod (any dry salted fish)
1 carrot diced
8 ochro (okra) diced
3 medium potatoes cubed
1 lb yam cubed
1 lb eddoes
3 sprigs thyme
4 green cooking bananas
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 hot pepper (scotch bonnet or habanero)
1 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic sliced
1 can coconut milk (about 1.25 cups)
salt to taste (see note below)
1 cup split peas (dry)
8 cups of water
1 tablespoon veg oil
* In the recipe I have 1 cup split peas and this is what’s traditionally used, but I opted for a dry peas mix. Which to be honest didn’t work as well as I planned.
* In the recipe you’ll notice that I also mentioned green bananas. However my pot wasn’t big enough and I didn’t have room to add it at the end. I’ll be using those for another recipe.
* To help quicken the cooking time of the split peas, feel free to soak them in cool water overnight, then drain when you’re ready to put into the soup.
Since I had to deal with the small pot issue, I couldn’t put the star of this soup – dumplings. If you need the recipe for making the flour dumplings, do let me know in the comment section below. They’re added the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Start off by soaking the dry salted fish in water for a few minutes (normally when using salted fish like this we either soak overnight then boil or soak in boiling hot water for an hr or so, but there’s no need with this recipe) then rinse off and strip into smaller pieces.
In a large pot (be smarter than me) heat the oil on med to high heat and add the pieces of salted fish to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes (until it starts to brown and stick to the bottom of the pot) then add the garlic and onion. Cook that for a few minutes on medium heat as we don’t want to burn the garlic.
After the onion starts to go soft and translucent, add the peas (remember to wash it before adding) and sliced carrots and give it good stir. (in the pic below you’ll see the dry peas mix I used and regret. Should have stuck to the split peas instead – lesson learned.
Add the coconut milk, thyme, black pepper, hot pepper, ochro and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook covered until the split peas is fully cooked. Takes about 45-50 minutes. As it cooks it will start to thicken.
While this does it’s thing, peel and cube the ground provisions (yam, eddoes, green bananas and potato), please try to cut them all the same size so they cook uniformly when we add them to the pot. In a previous soup recipe I posted, several people said that they parboil the provision separately. Wash the pieces off under cool water, then place in a large bowl and cover with water to prevent them from going discolored while we wait for the peas to fully cook.
The peas mix I used, took about 1 hour to get soft, this is when I added the provisions to the pot. Bring to a boil again, then turn down the heat to a simmer (with pot covered) and cook for about 15 minutes (until the provisions is fully cooked). If you’re adding dumplings to the soup do so the last 10 minutes or so, of cooking. IMPORTANT! You’ll notice that I didn’t add salt. This is because the salted cod that I used is packed with tons of salt and after tasting at the end I noticed that I didn’t have to add any. I recommend that you taste the soup to see if there’s enough salt for your taste.
* If you’re worried about the hot pepper in the ingredients list, add it whole and fish it out when the soup is done cooking. For that extra kick, burst open the pepper near the end and it will blaze-up this dish.
Be prepared to fall asleep after eating a good bowl of this. I had a good nap then when back for 2nd’s! Maybe I can get someone from Barbados to share their classic soup recipe with me, as through the years Carlos and I have drifted apart and I don’t have that connection any longer. Wait! Securing that soup could be a good reason to visit Barbados again, especially when it gets nasty-cold during the winter months
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