Soup on Saturdays was a family tradition in my house when I was growing up in Jamaica.Red Pea Soup is my all-time favourite soup! It’s a thick and flavourful soup chock full of meat, starchy vegetables and chewy dumplings. Like most Jamaican soups, Red Pea Soup is more like a stew. It’s a main meal not a starter soup or one you’d have with salad or sandwich. Red Pea Soup sticks to your ribs and satisfies.

Follow my instructions in my video and you should have no problem making this hearty soup. I’ve provided the traditional recipe which includes salted pig tails. However, if it’s a stretch for you to find (or perhaps it’s a tad too Jamaican for you), you can replace it with a ham hock or not include this ingredient at all.

But if you want to go for it, salted pig tails are sold in most West Indian grocery stores. Just soak them as per my instructions to remove most of the salt (used as a preservative) before making the soup. Pimento seeds give this soup a beautiful flavour, but I suggest removing them before serving the soup since they’re not meant to be eaten.

Cooking Tip 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 I suggest holding it with a tea towel or paper towel when peeling

Cooking Tip 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



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 (optional)
1 large piece Yellow yam
1  large Sweet potato
1 medium onion, chopped or 3 Stalks green onion, chopped
1 tsp Dried thyme or 3 stalks  fresh thyme
1 tsp Pimento seeds (optional)
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
Mix together to make stiff dough

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. Place stewing beef in pot with red peas 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.

3. 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.

4. When all the ingredients are tender add pig tails (with liquid) to pot with peas and beef and continue simmering.

5. 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.

6. Make dumplings (see above and video) and add to boiling pot of soup.

7. 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.

8. Taste soup for flavour and add salt or pepper, if needed.

Note: This soup should be moderately thick, but if it is too thick add some boiling water.