One of my favorite soups to look forward to on “Soup Saturdays” was when mom would have a massive pot of saltbeef (salted beef) soup, packed with ground provisions bubbling away on the stove. Due to the price and the fact that sourcing ‘good’ salted beef was difficult, we didn’t have saltbeef soup often. I still get a chuckle when I do thick heavy soups during the summer months here in Canada and people would say “isn’t it too hot for soups?”. For the most part the Caribbean is always hot and it’s tradition throughout the Caribbean that on Saturday’s we enjoy a piping hot bowl of soup.
1 lb salted beef
8-10 cups water
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1 1/4 cups yellow split peas
1 large carrot
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4-6 sprigs thyme
4 small potatoes
1 large Taro (or dasheen)
3 sweet potatoes
Yam and green bananas optional
1 scotch bonnet pepper
* The salted beef I used had bones so I got my butcher to cut it into pieces for me. I then washed and boiled in water for about 25 minutes before I got to cooking the actual soup. This will help remove some of the salt and start tenderizing it a bit.
Add the pre-cooked salted beef to your soup pot and place it on a medium flame. I didn’t need any veg oil as the pieces of salted beef I had was rather fatty. Then go in with the smashed garlic, diced onion, thyme and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low and let it gently cook for about 5 minutes.
It’s now time to add the split peas (washed), along with the carrots and 5 cups of water and bring to a boil (turn up the heat).
When it comes to a boil, reduce it to a rolling boil and allow it to cook for 45 mins – 1 hr. Basically until the beef and peas are somewhat tender. I also added the scotch bonnet pepper chopped, but if you don’t want the raw heat of the Caribbean Sunshine, you can float it whole. Just be sure to not break it as the soup cooks. Then fish it out near the end and discard. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling such hot peppers.
While things bubble, I like peeling my ground provisions and potato. Try to cut them the same size so they cook evenly and if you’re doing so in advance, simply place them in a bowl covered with water so they don’t discolor. If you see any sort of foam accumulating at the top, skim off and discard.
After the 1 hr or so, add all the other ingredients (including the chopped scallions), top with water and bring to a boil. If you notice any froth/scum at the top, skim off and discard. Cook for 25 mins or so on a rolling boil, or until all the ground provisions are tender. This will depend on how thick you cut them. You’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt to this soup as the remaining salt from the beef will be enough, but you can certainly adjust to your liking near the end.
You can leave the pot open or have the lid slightly ajar as it boils.
While I must admit that the quality of salted beef I get here in Southern Ontario is not as good as the ones we’d normally get on the islands, this is still a TASTY and comforting soup. This sort of meal takes me back to a time and place I wish I could relive often. Such a fun time to be a kid on the islands! Remember if you wanted you can add some flour dumplings the last 10 mins of cooking and it will take the comfort level over the TOP!