This Caribbean Red Peas Soup is a staple when it comes to rich stews and cozy soups with West Indian flair. A warming pot that’s full of tender peas (beans), succulent pigtails, herbs + aromatics, carrot, yam, and cornmeal dumplings all simmered in a decadent coconut-infused broth. Red peas soup is so incredibly delicious, easy to make, and chock-full of flavor, it’s truly unlike any other soup!

caribbean red peas soup in speckled bowl with gold spoon

This recipe holds a special place in my heart when it comes to soups. Like many folks with cultural backgrounds and upbringings, cooking from that heart space always hits differently. My parents moved from St. Thomas USVI to the States many years ago, I am the youngest of four and was born in California. Having not grown up on the islands, my childhood was very American, ha. And yet at the same time, West Indian culture was all around me in both family and community, and having been raised in South Florida. Cooking has always been a vessel for me to stay connected to my roots, and I lean into that heavily.

Caribbean Red Peas Soup ♡

Red peas soup is a soup I have such fond memories of and one of my favorites whenever I’m craving something soul-warming. It’s my mom’s favorite and she would only sing the praises of her mother’s version, my grandma, that is until I developed this recipe. Listen, it’s not easy to compete with my grandma Esmie’s anything. And it dang sure isn’t easy for my mom to co-sign my food simply because I am her child lol. She will be quick to tell me if one of my recipes is not good! Nevertheless, I consulted with my Grams and got all her notes on what makes her red peas soup pop off; and developed this recipe with my adaptations.

⇢ Whether it’s Caribbean Rum Cake, this Spiced Sorrel Tea, or these bomb Jerk Meatballs in Coconut Curry Sauce…Caribbean tings are the best! 🙌🏾

red peas soup in silver pot with silver ladle

What Is Red Peas Soup?

Caribbean red peas soup is a soup that primarily features red beans (in West Indian culture, we call them *peas*-fyi), pigtails, aromatics, dumplings, and starches/provisions like sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, etc. This soup is so satisfyingly rich and deeply fragrant with tons of flavor, there’s nothing like it. In Jamaican culture, they have a dish called “stew peas” that has a super similar vibe to red peas soup only it’s thicker in texture. While it is considered a soup, red peas soup is extra hearty and filling that it’s a meal entirely on its own!

Here’s Why You’ll Love This Dish:

  • FLAVOR-LOADED: There’s a whole heap of flavor within this soup y’all. From the salty bite of pigtails to the aromatics and warm spices to the dumplings and provisions in a coconut-infused, fragrant broth…there’s a variety in both flavor and textures that make this dish beam.
  • CUSTOMIZATION-FRIENDLY: If you don’t eat pork, there are other meat alternatives for you. If you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, this red peas soup recipe can easily be just as delicious without any meat and other swaps. We’ll get into all the variations and substitutions further down below.
  • FEEL-GOOD & WHOLESOME: While it’s rich and decadent, red peas soup is a soup loaded with beans, meat, and starches/veggies that fill you up with hearty and nourishing ingredients.
ingredients for caribbean red peas soup laid out on beige surface

Ingredients Needed For This Red Peas Soup Recipe:

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Pigtails: A traditional ingredient of this soup! Salted pigtails or pork tails are salt-cured and typically found packed in a bucket of brine. I always grab mine from my local Caribbean market as they’re not easily found in a regular grocery store. Furthermore, because they’re salt-cured, they need to be soaked overnight. This step is a good measure to render out a lot of the salt, remove any impurities, and tenderize the meat.
  • Red beans: This recipe calls for *dried* red beans, like small red beans or kidney beans. My grandma uses canned red beans; but after a slew of testing, I find dried beans to hold up better. Also, like the pigtails, the peas need to be soaked overnight as well to break them down a bit.
  • Butter: For sautéing the aromatics and adding a lil richness.
  • Onion: All soups need a little onion flavoring.
  • Bell pepper: Just one for this soup is so nice.
  • Scallions: A West Indian favorite, check.
  • Fresh thyme: For a nice pop of freshness and fragrant flair.
  • Garlic: Mmmm, garlic is everything!
  • Ground allspice: Aka dried pimento berries, it’s a combination of flavors like cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel, black pepper, and star anise.
  • Chicken broth: This plus water and coconut milk make up much of the broth.
  • Scotch bonnet: For flavoring, we’re using just one pepper that’ll go into the pot whole (not cut open!)- trust, you don’t want that 😆.
  • Provisions & starches: Carrots, yams, and/or sweet potatoes.
  • & for the dumplings: Flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and water.

How To Make This Caribbean Red Peas Soup Recipe:

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Soak the peas & pigtails. Prep the beans and pigtails by soaking them in separate bowls in cool water overnight (about 8 hours), and then drain. Then set them aside until called for in the recipe.
  2. Sauté the aromatics. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When sizzling, add the onion, bell pepper, scallions, and thyme sprigs. Sauté the veggies and aromatics, stirring often, until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground allspice and stir into the aromatic mixture, toasting up the spice.
  3. Simmer the peas & pigtails. Add the drained beans into the pot along with the pigtails, tossing to combine. Cover the mixture with broth and water, gently stirring to fully combine. Add the scotch bonnet pepper to the top of the mixture and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Cook for 1 hour and 25 minutes- until the peas (beans) and pigtails are nice and tender, and the mixture is super fragrant.
  5. Prep the dumplings. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt- whisking the mixture well to combine. Then pour in the water and use your hands to mix the dough together until just combined. Divide the dough into 2-inch balls, and then roll each small ball in the palm of your hands into a little log/small baton (as pictured above). Repeat the process until all dumplings have been formed and set aside.
  6. Build the red peas soup. Back to the soup, add in more water and the coconut milk- stirring to combine. Drop the dumplings into the pot. Then add the chopped carrots and yam/sweet potato. Gently stir the mixture until briefly combined. Continue cooking the soup for another 30 minutes to cook up the dumplings and provisions until tender and cooked through.
  7. Serve. Discard the scotch bonnet pepper and thyme sprigs. Serve this red peas soup immediately dividing the soup evenly into serving bowls. Mmm!
red peas soup in speckled bowl on top of striped beige linen

Soaking Beans 101: Why?

Ahhh to soak or not to soak, that is the question. Some people swear by soaking their beans before cooking and others say nah. ⇢ Why soak beans? Okay so boom, soaking beans before cooking them allows for the beans to cook evenly and faster. In addition to that, soaked beans are also easier to digest. You see, soaking them allows for the complex sugars within the beans to break down, therefore reducing indigestion (and gas). An extra step but oh so worth it!

How To Soak Beans: Two Ways

⇢ There are ✌🏾 methods to get those beans nice and right for red peas soup!

  • Cold soak (overnight): In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water and let them soak overnight on the counter, for about 8 hours. After soaking, simply drain and set them aside until called for in the recipe card, below.
  • Fast soak (hot method): Bring about 6-7 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Then add in the beans and remove the pot from heat. Let the beans soak in the hot water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Afterward, simply drain the beans and set aside until called for in the recipe card, below.
Caribbean red peas soup in silver pot with ladle

Types Of Ground Provision For Red Peas Soup

Ground provisions is the term that many Caribbean folks use to refer to root starches/vegetables grown underground like sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, dasheen (taro), and eddos. In West Indian cuisine, many of them are cooked within a dish or served on the side. For red peas soup, I recommend yams and/or sweet potatoes >> I love the boniato sweet potato variety! Its flesh is white and it has a nutty flavor that’s not super duper sweet. You could also use regular potatoes and/or corn on the cob in this soup that’s cut into smaller pieces.

Cornmeal Dumplings

The cornmeal dumplings are a breeze to bring together, and the flour and cornmeal combination is so good! I use fine yellow cornmeal in mine, but if you like your dumplings with more texture you could use coarse cornmeal, too. The dumplings soak up all that good flavor! In Jamaican red peas soup, the dumplings are called “spinners” and are typically only flour-based.

closeup of red peas soup in speckled bowl on top of striped linen

Types Of Meat For Red Peas Soup

Salted pork or beef are the most common types of meat when it comes to red peas soup. In case you were wondering: Pigtail is super similar in taste and texture to a ham hock or any other salty porky part. After simmering, the pigtails are fall-apart tender and rich and succulent…delicious! However, other alternatives include stew beef, ham bone, ham hock, or smoked turkey.

Storing Red Peas Soup & Reheating:

We all know that second-day soups + stews are the best because the flavors have had a chance to settle and marinate even further! 👌🏾

To prep your red peas soup for refrigeration, here’s how to do it: Make sure the soup has cooled down to room temperature first. Then store the soup inside an airtight container, and it will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, simply cook on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through. Alternatively, heat in the microwave until warmed through.

To prep your red peas soup for freezing: Make sure the soup has cooled down to room temperature first. Then transfer the soup into an airtight container or a large freezer-safe plastic bag that’ll lay flat. I like to label the soup with the date made for safekeeping. Store the soup in the freezer and it will keep for up to 3 months. When ready, thaw red peas soup in the fridge overnight. To reheat, simply cook on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through. Alternatively, heat in the microwave until warmed through.

black hands holding speckled bowl full of red peas soup

This Caribbean Red Peas Soup recipe is among my top 2’s and it’s not 2. It’s so rich, flavorful, and comforting, gah. Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

More recipes with dat Caribbean flair:

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caribbean red peas soup in speckled bowl with gold spoon

Caribbean Red Peas Soup

  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Caribbean

Description

This Caribbean Red Peas Soup is a staple when it comes to rich stews and cozy soups with West Indian flair. A warming pot that’s full of tender peas (beans), succulent pigtails, herbs + aromatics, carrot, yam, and cornmeal dumplings all simmered in a decadent coconut-infused broth. Red peas soup is so incredibly delicious, easy to make, and chock-full of flavor, it’s truly unlike any other soup!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight & drained
  • 2 lbs salted pigtails, soaked overnight & drained
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste (or 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced)
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, left whole- do not slice!
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium yam or sweet potato, peeled & chopped into quarters

For the dumplings:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup water

Instructions

  1. Soak the peas & pigtails. Prep the beans and pigtails by soaking them in separate bowls in cool water overnight (about 8 hours), and then drain. Then set them aside until called for in the recipe.
  2. Sauté the aromatics. In a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven or stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. When sizzling, add the onion, bell pepper, scallions, and thyme sprigs. Sauté the veggies and aromatics, stirring often, until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground allspice and stir into the aromatic mixture, toasting up the spice for about 1 minute.
  3. Simmer the peas & pigtails. Add the drained beans into the pot along with the pigtails, tossing to combine. Cover the mixture with the chicken broth/stock and 4 cups of water, gently stirring to fully combine. Add the scotch bonnet pepper to the top of the mixture and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Cook for 1 hour and 25 minutes- until the peas (beans) and pigtails are nice and tender, and the mixture is super fragrant.
  5. Prep the dumplings. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt- whisking the mixture well to combine. Then pour in the water and use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to mix the dough together until just combined. Divide the dough into 2-inch balls or so, and then roll each small ball in the palm of your hands into a little log/small baton (as pictured in the blog post). Repeat the process until all dumplings have been formed and set aside.
  6. Build the red peas soup. Back to the soup, add in the remaining 2 cups of water and coconut milk- stirring to combine. Drop and scatter the dumplings into the pot. Then add the chopped carrots and yam/sweet potato. Gently stir the mixture until briefly combined. Continue cooking the soup for another 30 minutes to cook up the dumplings and provisions (carrots/yam/sweet potato) until soft and tender.
  7. Serve. Discard the scotch bonnet pepper and thyme sprigs. Serve this red peas soup immediately dividing the soup evenly into serving bowls. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten-free needs? Swap the all-purpose flour for any gluten-free flour as a 1:1 ratio (we love Bob’s Red Mill gf flour!).
  2. Please read blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.

Keywords: red peas soup, Caribbean recipes, jamaican red peas soup, red bean soup, red beans, bean soup, pigtail soup, salted pigtails, spinners, cornmeal dumplings, stew peas