For many households in Jamaica, soup is a must for Saturday’s dinner. Chicken foot soup, chicken neck soup, chicken back soup, chicken soup (believe me, it’s different from the previous mentioned chicken based soups), corned beef soup, beef soup, red peas soup, conch soup, fish tea (fish soup), goat soup (manish wata), corned pork soup, pig’s tail soup, cow cod soup, callaloo soup, shrimp soup, crayfish soup, crab soup, pumpkin soup, vegetable soup, and the list goes on. As long as its a form of meat consumed in the island, Jamaican’s will find some way to make it into soup. Keep in mind though, for a Jamaican, soup isn’t soup unless it has some ground provisions in it. So, throw in some green bananas, irish potatoes, chocho, green breadfruit slices, coco, yams, corns, dasheen, pumpkin, dumplings and/or spinners, chopped carrots, escallion, thyme, onion, garlic and the oh so important Scotch Bonnet Pepper (or any other pepper), and you are on your way to making a decent soup. You don’t really need all of these to make soup (pretty sure I’m missing some ingredients too), but it sure does taste awesome with all of them.
Finish up with a soup mix (looking at you Maggi and Grace), and you have a soup that will have you licking your lips and raiding the pot for more, providing that you either know how to cook soup or followed a proper recipe. Because, believe it or not, it’s possible to spoil soup… I had the unfortunate opportunity to taste one at a dead yard a few years ago that had me questioning the cook’s abilities.
This Saturday was the first in a very long time that I had actually prepared soup for dinner as my SO had informed me some years ago when we were just friends (he likes saying that he escaped the friendzone) that he utterly disliked it unless his grandmother was making it. Now, for each Jamaican, no one can make soup or some other dish like their mother, grandmother, uncle, aunt, father, grandfather or some other relative, and hearing those words from him were daunting. However, this Saturday I decided to at least try to come close to the cooking of his legendary family matriarch.
So, I took out some beef bone that had been set aside in the freezer some weeks ago and after thawing it out, cleaned it in some water with vinegar and set it to boil for a few hours. When the meat was soft enough for me, I got my SO to make some dumplings and spinners, while I cut up irish potatoes, carrots, garlic and corn (yeah…. unfortunately, my poor pot wasn’t big enough to hold whole corn). After these went into the boiling pot (at different times) with a sprig of thyme and my soup mix (big up Maggi!!!!), I waited for my soup to cook, stirring and tasting it from time to time. Sadly, I had no Scotch Bonnet Pepper in the house as I hadn’t been able to purchase any during the week.
Around 6PM I declared the soup ready and dished out two bowls for dinner. With my heart in my throat, I placed his bowl before him on the table before sitting down to mine. I watched as he slowly picked up his spoon, dipped it in his bowl, took up some of the soup and tasted it. He sat there for few seconds and I was so sure that I had failed to live up to his expectations. Then he smiled, said the soup was really good, then went on to finish it and (to my amazement and utter happiness) scraped the bowl clean.
Let me tell you, to have a Jamaican man, woman or child who swears that they dislike a meal, clean their plate when served it, then declare that they would like that meal every Saturday… it’s a good feeling.
This is the end of this week’s mumble and I do apologize for missing the past few months. I have been extra busy with work and other stuff, and most evenings and mornings I was too tired or busy to even string together a good paragraph. Hopefully, I’ll be able to let you guys know what has been going on in my life soon. Until then, walk good.