Beans are a convenient and versatile pantry staple, not to mention incredibly nutritious. So, today, we want to show you how to turn humble red kidney beans into a hearty and satisfying soup with a Caribbean twist. Our recipe is inspired by the famous red peas soup from Jamaica, a vibrant and warming dish that's as tasty as easy to make.
Head to your local Caribbean food store or well-stocked supermarket and grab some yams, Scotch bonnets, coconut milk, and red kidney beans. You'll also need a few basic soup veggies like carrots and onions, allspice, and thyme.
Preparing this Jamaican soup is as simple as stewing beans and vegetables until tender. Add all to a pot and let the soup cook for a good 30 minutes while you chill back and relax. But if you want, you can prepare a few dumplings while you wait. A classic stew pea soup is not complete without some Jamaican "spinners", cute and tasty spindle-shaped dumplings.
While the traditional Jamaican soup also includes uncured and salted meats like pork or beef, we kept only the beans to make the recipe vegan and lower in fats. Red kidney beans are also called red pea by the locals, so the two terms refer to the same ingredient. Using dried, raw beans is essential here if you want to get a rich, velvety, and purplish broth. But if you're short on time, we'll also give you the option to use canned beans instead.
Other than skipping the meat, we kept all the usual herbs, spices, and vegetables. Chillies, allspice, coconut, and thyme make the soup both warming and fresh, while root vegetables add earthy notes and a starchy texture. As for the dumplings, we replaced the classic wheat flour with rice flour for a gluten-free alternative. But feel free to use any gluten-free blend you like or stick to wheat if you're not celiac.
A generous bowl of this bean soup comes in less than 400 calories, yet it provides over 35% RDI of proteins and 60% RDI of fibres. This means you'll feel full and satiated for long, all with just a simple meal of beans and veggies. So, why not make a big batch of this Jamaican soup to keep at hand for the whole week? You'll be looking forward to dinnertime!
- Rice Flour (or gluten-free or white flour)
- Baking Powder
- Ground Thyme
- Cold Water
- Dry Red Kidney Beans
- Vegetable Stock
- Brown Onions
- Yam (white or yellow)
- Spring Onions Stalks
- Scotch Bonnet Chillies
- Ground Allspice
- Coconut Milk Drink
Rinse the dried beans and add them to a bowl (or to the same pot you'll use to cook them).
Cover them with cold water and leave them to soak for at least 2 hours, even better overnight.
As the beans soak, they'll swell and soften.
Now, drain the soaking water and add the red peas to a large pot.
Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and simmer the beans covered for 25 minutes over medium/low heat.
At this point, they should feel almost tender to the bite.
While the beans cook, peel the onions, carrots, and yam. Then, chop them into small cubes.
Next, slice the spring onions. Halve the Scotch bonnet chillies, remove the seeded core, and thinly chop the flesh.
Scotch bonnets are very spicy: by removing the seeds, they'll be much milder, but you can also keep them if you like your soup hot and fiery.
Now, add the prepared ingredients to the cooked beans, and tip in ground allspice and coconut milk drink.
Bring the broth back to a boil and simmer all covered for 10 minutes until the veggies are tender.
Meanwhile, let's make the dumplings.
They are optional, but they'll make the whole dish much tastier.
Combine cornmeal, rice flour, baking powder, salt, and thyme in a bowl. Then, pour in the water and work all into a soft, smooth, and pliable dough. It should feel moist but not sticky.
You can replace rice flour with any gluten-free flour blend. Alternatively, use plain wheat flour if you're not intolerant to gluten, but decrease the amount of water from 65ml (2 fl oz) to 45ml (1.5 fl oz).
To shape the Jamaican "spinner" dumplings, pinch off a small amount of dough and roll into a ball, roughly the size of a large hazelnut.
Then, roll it back and forth onto the worktop, pressing down with your palm to make a cylinder. Finally, taper the end with your fingers to give the dumpling its characteristic spindle shape. We made ours about 6 cm (2/2.5 inches) long and as thick as a pinky finger.
Keep the shaped spinners covered with cling film so they won't dry out, and repeat this step until you have used all the tough.
Add the prepared dumplings to the simmering soup and cook them for 10-15 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
They should be soft, swollen, and glossy, floating on the surface of the soup. You know the dumplings are ready if they feel chewy to the bite, without grainy bits, and they are no longer white inside.
Once ready, garnish the red pea soup with extra thyme and spring onions and enjoy.
You can swap dried kidney beans with the canned ones for a much faster 20 minute-recipe. Use about 90g (3.5 oz) of tinned beans per person. Add them to the pot along with their canning water, followed by the stock and veggies. Cook all for 10 minutes and then follow the recipe above from step 4.
We used chilled coconut drink, which you should find in your supermarket's lactose-free drinks section. If you can't find it, you can use tinned coconut milk, which will make the soup creamier but also slightly higher in fats.
Yellow-fleshed yams are a staple ingredient in Jamaican stewed peas, but they can be more difficult to find than white ones. If you can't get hold of any type of yam, then you can swap them with cassava root, eddo, taro, or green plantains. Alternatively, use Russet potatoes or sweet potatoes.