Jamaican Red Peas Soup

Red Peas SoupA rich, hearty soup that’ll keep you coming back for more. I could eat this everyday and not get tired of it. It’s one of those warm you up when you’re cold soups, fill your belly when you’re hungry soups leaving you satisfied with a smile on your face. This recipe is spot on traditional, but I did chef it up a bit using a mirepoix for more depth of flavour. As well in the version I cooked I used a pork shoulder and roasted it in advance as I couldn’t get pig tails in a pinch.

The traditional recipe includes salted pig tails (sold in most West Indian grocery stores). However, if you can’t find them you can replace it with a ham hock or a pork shoulder as I did which I recommend seasoning and roasting it to get more flavour out of it.
If you find the salted pig tails be sure to soak them in advance to remove most of the salt (used as a preservative) before making the soup.


  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Dry red peas (kidney beans)
  • 8-10 cups Water, approx.
  • 1 lb Stewing beef
  • 1 1/2 lb Pig’s tail or ham hock or pork shoulder
  • 1 large piece Jamaican Yellow yam
  • 1 large Jamaican Sweet potato
  • 3 Stalks green onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp Pimento seeds
  • 1 tsp Hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. When peeling a yellow yam, make sure to avoid letting it touch your skin. The starch in the yam will make your skin itch so holding it with a tea towel or paper towel when peeling.
  2. When it’s necessary to add more water to the simmering soup, use boiling water to keep the cooking temperature of the soup stable.

Overnight prep

  1. Place dry kidney beans in large soup pot on stove, cover with water and soak overnight
  2. If using, place pig tails in bowl, cover with water and soak overnight in fridge to remove excess salt


  1. To remove more excess salt, put soaked pig tails in a pot, cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Repeat this step two more times.
  2. Sauté mirepoix in large stock pot with olive oil. 
  3. Salt  stewing beef well then place in pot with mirepoix.
  4. Drain red peas, add to pot and add enough water to cover the two ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for about 1 hour, or until peas and beef are cooked. Note:the beef will likely be cooked before the peas, so remove when tender, if preferred.
  5. At the same time, in a separate pot cover pig tails with water, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Note:In both pots, as water evaporates when cooking, add boiling water to cover ingredients. If using pork shoulder, season well and roast in oven for an hour, chock up and add to pot.
  6. When all the ingredients are tender add pig tails (with liquid) to pot with peas and beef and continue simmering.
  7. Peel and cut yam and sweet potato into large serving pieces; add to boiling soup. Add boiling water to pot to semi cover yams and potatoes.
  8. Make dumplings (see above and video) and add to boiling pot of soup.
  9. Add onion, thyme, pimento, hot pepper sauce and black pepper to soup pot and simmer until yams and potatoes are tender and soup has thickened.
  10. Taste soup for flavour and add salt or pepper, if needed.
  11. Note:This soup should be moderately thick, but if it is too thick add some boiling water.
  1. Mix together to make stiff dough. Separate 2oz pieces and roll between hands to make spinners. Drop into soup at least 20 minutes before finishing.