In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Ital Soup A Vegetarian Delight.

I’ll be honest and confess that I have little experience cooking Ital food (no salt, no meat.. usually not for me), but I’ve had several requests over the past few months and a friend of mine who’s a practicing Rastafarian commented that I’m not showing him much love with my offerings. So with a little research I came up with this delicious ital soup, which I know is a good representation of their diet code. However I’ve had conflicting info come my way when it comes to cooking without salt. I grew up knowing that my dreddy friends didn’t partake in meats and salt, but I was told that some make the exception and use sea salt.  In this recipe you will notice that I didn’t use any form of salt, so it was a bit challenging to have a well balanced soup since my palate is so dependent on this sinful addiction. Feel free to add salt to your taste if it’s not a dietary restriction.


You’ll Need…

1 cup pumpkin (cubed)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup dried split peas
8-10 cups water
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
3 eddoes
1 medium sweet potato
2 potato
2 scallions (aka green/spring onion)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoon oregano (fresh is best)
2-3 cups callaloo bush *
1 carrot
1/2 cup celery
2 cups coconut milk
5 okras
tablespoon freshly grated ginger (optional)
1 plantain (half ripe)
1 carrot

Notes: The callaloo (Jamaica) bush is also known as chorai bhagi or spinach in the Caribbean. If you can’t source callaloo bush, feel free to use typical North American spinach, baby dasheen bush leaves or shredded cabbage. Additionally you can also add yam, dasheen, cassava or green cooking bananas if you have those things readily available.

We’ve got to create the base for this lovely ital soup and since the dried split peas will take much longer to cook than the other ingredients, we need to put that to cook first. Wash the split peas then put it in your soup pot (huge) and pour in the 8 cups of water. Also chop the scallion, garlic, onion and celery. As the peas comes to a boil add these flavourful ingredients. reduce to simmer and let cook until the peas and tender (about 45 minutes). Place the scotch bonnet pepper in the pot whole as we want to flavor and not the raw heat. At the end of cooking you can remove it from the pot. However if you like the heat, you can certainly burst it open to release the Caribbean sunshine.

When the peas are tender and starting dissolving, it’s time to add the other ingredients. So peel, cube and wash the plantain, eddoes, potato, sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin, then add it to the pot. Now pour in the coconut milk and don’t forget to add the thyme, black pepper and oregano. Make sure you have enough liquid in the pot to cover everything. You can add more water or coconut milk if more liquid is required. Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer.

Trim the stems off the okra and cut then into 1 inch pieces and ad to the pot. When cubing the ground provisions try to keep them uniform in size so they cook evenly (cut them in big pieces so they hold their shape as they cook). After 25 minutes everything should be almost cooked all the way through, so it’s time to wash and trim the callaloo bush and add it to the pot. Basically all you have to do is remove the leaves off the stem, wash and roll like a cigar and chop into 1/2 inch strips.

Allow it to cook for a further 7-10 minutes so the callaloo bush adds additional flavor and the soup thickens up. If you’re adding salt, now would be a good time (adjust accordingly). NOTE: This soup will thicken up quite a bit as it cools, so make sure you leave a fair amount of broth to compensate.

Now is a good time to remove the scotch bonnet pepper and if you added the thyme with the sprigs, do remember to fish them out as well.

With all the natural seasoning we added with the fresh herbs, you’ll be quite surprised at how tasty this ital soup will be. By using herbs like parsley, savory, thyme, marjoram and celery you’ll add so many levels of flavor to meals, you’ll be better equipped to handle a salt free diet. A nice touch is some fresh squeezed lime juice to top your steaming bowl of ital soup and be prepared for one of the most hearty meals you’ve ever had. You’re guaranteed to have the sleepies after a hot bowl of this ital soup.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Ital Soup A Vegetarian Delight.
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3.51star1star1star1stargray Based on 21 Review(s)


  1. January 29, 2020 / 6:51 pm

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  2. Donna Edghill
    September 13, 2016 / 4:42 pm

    I’ve made this soup a few times and shared it with my American friends. They all love it!!! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  3. January 24, 2015 / 7:08 pm

    Hi Chris ! I made your Ital soup today it was the bomb. My whole family enjoyed it. It was very tasty. I always enjoy trying your recipes. Keep up the good works.

    • admin
      January 24, 2015 / 8:39 pm

      So glad you all enjoyed it and gave it a try.

  4. Carmen
    January 14, 2015 / 10:55 am

    I made similar soup with different veggies and vegetable broth and my husband enjoyed it, also my daughter. It was simple and tasty. I’ll be trying your other receipes. My hubby is trini and with me being spanish I need more receipes. Thanks!

  5. Margaret
    January 2, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    Well, de peppa bus’! What was an aromatic, eye pleasing, delicious soup is now too hot for my aging taste buds. Beware, if you can’t take the heat, TAKE THE PEPPER OUT BEFORE IT BREAKS APART!!!

  6. Abi
    November 4, 2014 / 4:11 pm

    I tried this today with a bit of salt. Tastes really good. I’m hoping my girls will like it. I didn’t have the E vegetable, so I just compensated with the rest. Thank you for posting your recipes. I’m about to try the collard greens 🙂
    Be blessed and prosperous.

  7. Mademoiselle
    July 5, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    I would like to say thank you for posting all your cooking videos. You are very informative and explain all what you are doing. You have helped me cook a delicious fish soup. Even though I didn’t have any coconut milk or spinach, I still made a delicious soup. My vegetables always end up uneven and mashed up but you showed in the video how to cut them and that was really helpful for me, someone who is not a good cook but I am learning from you. Thank you Chris!!! May God Almighty bless you for all your work and continue to help people like me. Even if some are unappreciative know that you have and are helping someone like me. 🙂

  8. Drea
    April 23, 2014 / 7:35 am

    I made this yesterday and it was delicious! Very filling. It thickened up a lot after it cooled down. Next time I will add some dumplings

  9. Elizabeth
    February 14, 2013 / 7:53 pm

    This was delicious! Especially with the ginger and lime added at the end. I ended up having way too many vegetables though because the malanga (eddoes) in Puerto Rico are apparently a lot bigger than the ones you used. I like how filling it is as well.

  10. Ingrid
    November 6, 2012 / 6:36 pm

    I tried this recipe yesterday and OMG it was great! Would have loved to have been able to find the callaloo, but it still turned out great. this is definitely going on my winter soup recipe rotation.

    Thanks again Chris for sharing a wonderful recipe! Ps you posted a wonderful looking soup on the Caribbean Pot facebook page a little while ago and was wondering if the recipe was posted up here somewhere?

  11. Jancy
    October 28, 2012 / 7:43 pm

    Thank you so much for this yummy recipe. My kids 4, 3 and 1 loved it! We actually forgot to put the coconut milk in but it was still yummy. Can't wait to make this as part of our Thanksgiving dinner and add the coconut milk. Our guests will love it. This is such a hardy soup, you don't need to eat anything else and you feel it sticking to your bones.

  12. Ms. Chin
    September 30, 2012 / 2:30 pm

    I was so excited to find and prepare this recipie. It turned out great…..definitely going to be added to the frequently prepare list. I love the site and look forward to preparing many more dishes. I generally maintain a vegan/veggie palate and absolutely love Ital food… oh and will include fish. I am looking for a great fish tea recipie if u can recommend one. Many Thanks!!!

  13. Francisca Reid
    September 6, 2012 / 7:13 pm

    This looks sooooo sumptious. Could add a few slices of yellow yam and some spinners (dumplins).

  14. Ann
    August 19, 2012 / 3:21 pm

    Hi Chris

    This looks sooooo yummy and tempting. I am gonna try this…with all the fresh herbs who needs salt !

    Thanks for posting


  15. Josh
    August 14, 2012 / 9:54 pm

    What's up Chris!! I live in Birmigham, Alabama but spend a good deal of time on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. These rich and thick soups are awesome, and with your recipe as inspiration I've made my own Ital food! I'm a fan of your work, keep it up good sir

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