Dominica red beans soup, or as it’s referred to dumpling, peas, and salted pork soup is synonymous with the phrase Dominica’s comfort food. When I think of a signature staple dish on the island, one of the treasured meals that come to mind is the red beans soup. This soup, affectionately and widely known in creole as dumbway, pois, and gel coshion, satisfies any hunger.
My fondest memories of eating red beans soup were when we would prepare it during koolmen or village project collaborations. The older women in the village would source enormous pots and get open fires going to prepare this hearty, flavorful meal.
Dominica’s red beans soup is cooked with salted pig’s snout and tail, or various smoked parts of the pig. While the salted pig’s snout is purchased from local shops or supermarkets, smoking our meat was customary. Growing up, when villagers would kill a pig, the meat would be sold to the rest of the community. Some of the meat would be reserved to be cooked fresh, some locally salted and smoked. However, since I’m not currently on the island, my meat options are limited. I occasionally opt for the store-bought, factory packaged smoked pork whenever I prepare this fav.
Although keeping the recipes authentic helps preserve the tradition, I usually use available or convenient ingredients. Using uncooked kidney beans if the beans of choice, but I often cheat my way through the recipe and use canned beans. It’s faster, convenient, and actually tastes the same regular beans. I also add other staples (provisions) to my soup, like plantain and sometimes yam, when available. Some people actually soak their beans the night before, I used to but since I always cook on demand, I just boil my beans.
Here’s an easy way to prepare Dominica’s red beans soup.
Dominica’s Red Beans Soup
- Large pot
- 2 lbs Smoked pork (boiled) You can use any salted meat
- 1 gallon Water You'll need to use 1½ for the dumpling
- 1 lbs Kidney beans (boiled) Boil the kidney beans with some garlic and oil. You can also use can beans.
- 24 mixed Dumplings See dumpling recipe below.
- 2 whole Plantains You can use potatoes, and other provisions
- 1 teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- I tbsp Garlic (crushed) You can use garlic powder
- 1½ tbsp Turmeric
- 4 sprigs Thyme You van also use parsley, and scallions
- 1 large Onion
- 1 tbsp Salt You may not need to add salt, since the smoked pork has salt.
- Add 1 gallon of water to a large pot
- Bring to boil.
- Add beans and let it simmer for 20 minutes. This allows it to soften up a bit more and release more of the red natural colors.
- Add all ingredients except the plantain and meat and allow it to boil for another 15 minutes. Adding the plantains and meat too early may cause them to over cook.
- Add the plantains and stir a bit. If the soup is too thick you may add a water as needed.
- Continue to boil for another 25 minutes.
Caribbean Dumplings for Soups and Braff
- mixing bowl
- 3 cups Flour
- 1½ cups Water
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- Mix flour and salt
- Add water and mix the dough. If you have a food processor, you can use it, or simply use your hands.
- When dough is fully mixed, cut into desired sizes, roll into balls, flat or long shapes.
- Add your dumplings to cook in your favorite soup, braff or boil it as a stand alone staple.