I cooked a lot of caribbean island food while working in Florida. Many cooks I that worked with were from the caribbean islands. I learned as much as I could from the island cooks while I was there. Mastering the caribbean spices and chili peppers can difficult to do, if the cuisine of the caribbean is something new. If you want to learn Caribbean cooking, then it is best to start with the simple traditional island recipes.
Arawak and Carib island tribes cooked some great food long before the european occupation. Jerk and barbacoa are two good examples of pre colombian cuisine. Both of those entrees use local chili peppers that are very spicy hot!
Pigeon peas are native to tropical eastern India. Pigeon peas have a deep rich flavor like lentils. Pigeon peas are a main staple in the Caribbean and they are almost always served with rice. This pigeon pea soup recipe involves no tricky techniques. Like many traditional caribbean soups, this soup is simply boiled.
Pigeon Pea and Ham Soup Recipe:
This recipe makes 1 large bowl of soup or 2 medium size servings!
Place 2 1/2 cups of light chicken broth into a sauce pot.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil over medium high heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of diced celery.
Add 2 tablespoons of diced carrot.
Add 2 tablespoons of diced onion.
Add 1 chopped green onion.
Add 1 chopped small plum tomato.
Add 1 tablespoon of diced green bell pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of diced red bell pepper.
Add 1/2 of a minced scotch bonnet chile pepper. ("Bonnie" peppers are very hot! If no scotch bonnets are available, then substitute 1/2 of a green habanero pepper.)
Place 1 1/2 cups of rinsed canned pigeon peas or rinsed cooked dried pigeon peas into a mixing bowl.
Use a potato masher or a fork to mash half of the pigeon peas.
Add the partially mashed pigeon peas to the soup.
Add 2 ounces of bite pieces of ham that are torn by hand instead of cut with a knife.
Add 1 bay leaf.
Add 1 pinch of allspice.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Bring the soup back to a boil.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Simmer the soup, till the pigeon peas and vegetables become cooked very tender and the mashed pigeon peas thicken the broth.
Ladle the soup into a soup bowl.
Garnish the soup with a slice of toasted bread.
You will immediately know if you used too much scoth bonnet pepper in this soup! Go sparing with the scotch bonnet pepper, because it is only meant to impart flavor to this soup and not spicy heat. Scotch bonnet hot sauce can always be added at the table, if you prefer spicy food. This soup tastes so nice and savory! Yum! ... Shawna