How to Make Jamaican Pea Soup

How to Make Jamaican Pea Soup

Jamaican Red Peas Soup is a classic Jamaican soup that’s bursting with a mix of Caribbean herbs, spices and flavour! It’s made with red kidney beans and beef to make the most delicious base for the soup and loaded with dumplings, carrots, and hearty ground provision, such as yams and potatoes. This dish can easily be prepared with just vegetables making it a great vegetarian or vegan dish as well!

Jamaican Pea Soup

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

To Soak Red Kidney Beans

  • Dried Red Kidney Beans – this is what gives the soup that iconic reddish hue.I recommend only using dried red kidney beans as canned beans will not provide the same depth of flavour.
  • Water – use this to rehydrate the beans for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. You may need an additional cup of water along the way, just ensure the beans are fully submerged at all times.
  • Garlic – use large cloves and crush them using the bottom of a can or between two cutting boards.
  • Whole Pimento Seeds – also known as allspice berries, this adds a woody, cinnamon like flavour but is not overpowering.

Jamaican Red Peas Soup

  • Water – essential to start the soup, of course. Start with 10 cups and add additional cups along the way if needed.
  • Beef Shank – you can also use stewing beef, cut into large chunks as it will shrink down and break apart as the soup cooks. I prefer using beef shank with the bone, as it provides an added rich flavour.
  • Cured Bone-In Beef – also referred to as salt beef (salted beef). Cut into chunks, and ensure you take the time to boil out some of the salt.
  • Potato – yukon gold will suffice, quartered into large pieces, as it will dissolve itself into the soup to add thickness and body.
  • Yellow Yam – you can also use other ground provision as an alternative such as dasheen, eddo yam, cassava.
  • Carrot – use large, peeled and sliced carrots or carrots cut into chunks.
  • Onion – halved and quartered.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper – this packs a good spicy punch, and flavour to the soup. Alternatively, you can use habanero peppers or your favourite variety of pepper. Be sure to keep it whole (don’t let it burst), as the soup may become too spicy.
  • Escallion – also known as green onion, crushed using the handle end of a chefs knife if needed.
  • Fresh Thyme – this fresh aromatic and flavourful herb is essential in many jamaican dishes, and definitely great in this one as well.
  • Flour Spinners (Dumpling) – a mixture of all purpose flour, water and salt rolled into circular shaped dumplings.
  • Coconut Milk – used to give the soup a rich creamy flavour.
  • Seasonings – all purpose seasoning, seasoning salt, salt, and black pepper, any variation or your favourite herbal seasoning like an italian blend will work well.


  • 1 Large Stockpot


To Soak Red Kidney Beans

  • 2 cups Dried Red Kidney Beans
  • 3 cups Water may need an additional cup
  • 4 cloves Garlic large, crushed
  • 8 Whole Pimento Seeds or whole allspice berries

Jamaican Red Peas Soup

  • 12 cups Water divided
  • 2 lbs Beef Shank cut into chunks w/ bone or stewing beef, optional
  • 1 lb Cured Bone-In Beef salt beef, cut into chunks, optional
  • 2 small Potato quartered
  • 3 slices Yellow Yam small
  • 1 Carrot large, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 med Onion
  • 1-2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper whole, optional
  • 2 stalks Escallion green onion, crushed
  • 3-4 sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 6 Flour Spinners (Dumpling) recipe below
  • 1 can Coconut Milk 400ml
  • 2 tbsp All Purpose Seasoning or seasoning salt, more or less to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Other Optional Ingredients or Substitutes for Above Listed Ingredients

  • Corn
  • Ground Provision Yams, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Dasheen, Eddo and Cassava


Soak Red Kidney Beans

  • Rinse beans and place in a medium sized bowl. Add fresh water, garlic, and pimento seeds (allspice berries). Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare Cured/Salted Beef if using

  • Add water to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Then add cured/salted beef and boil for about 20 minutes to remove salt and discard water and set aside beef. Repeat if necessary until desired amount of salt has been been boiled out.

Cook Beef & Red Kidney Beans

  • In the same large stockpot, bring to rapid boil 10 cups of fresh water. Carefully add the beef shank or stewing beef, cured/salted beef if using and pour in bean mixture (including the water, which is now infused with flavour). Allow to boil for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the beef and beans are mid-tender.

Jamaican Red Peas Soup

  • While beef and beans boiling, prepare your other fresh ingredients; potato, carrot, yellow yam, onion, thyme, green onion (escallion), and scotch bonnet pepper; set aside.
  • When beef and peas are more on the tender side add the remaining fresh ingredients including the spinners and add an additional two cups of water to ensure all soup ingredients are covered; reduce heat to medium.
  • Pour in coconut milk, and season with all purpose seasoning, salt and black pepper. Give a good stir, taste and adjust if necessary; allow to simmer for an additional 15 mins. Remove scotch bonnet pepper and thyme sprigs, serve while hot and enjoy!


  • In a medium mixing bowl, add flour and salt then gradually add water and use your hand to knead and form the dough for the spinners. Dough should be soft but not sticky and wet. Pinch or cut off 6 to 8 equal sized pieces. Use the palms of your hands to make long thin dumpling style spinners. Set each spinner aside.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  1. Large Stock Pot – once you add in all your vegetables, dumplings, and meat things can get crowded, ensure you use a large enough pot.
  2. Dumplings – when the dumplings begin to float to the top, they are ready. 
  3. Water/Stock Level – always make sure there’s enough water in your pot to cover your ingredients at all times. Enough water to cover the beef and beans during the cooking process. Enough water to cover all your vegetables and dumplings to allow the soup to simmer. 
  4. Consistency – crush some of the beans into the soup if you prefer a thicker soup using the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot – use a pressure cooker or instant pot for a quicker way to hydrate the beans instead of soaking overnight.
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