Jamaican/ Main Dishes & Entrées/ Soups & Stews/ Vegan/ Vegetarian

Gungo Peas Soup

December 5, 2022

Gungo Peas Soup is a classic flavourful Jamaican soup loaded with pigeon (gungo) peas, dumplings and hearty ground provision then simmered to cozy perfection for the ultimate Caribbean comfort meal. This pigeon peas soup comes together in less than two hours and can easily be made vegetarian or vegan for the perfect Saturday or any day soup!

gungo peas soup in bowl with dumplings, vegetables and ground provision.

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Gungo Peas Soup is a classic flavourful Jamaican soup loaded with pigeon (gungo) peas, dumplings and hearty ground provision then simmered to cozy perfection for the ultimate Caribbean comfort meal. This pigeon peas soup comes together in less than two hours and can easily be made vegetarian or vegan for the perfect Saturday or any day soup!

For more Jamaican soup recipes, try my authentic, tried, and tested Jamaican Chicken Soup, this comforting Jamaican Red Peas Soup recipe, or one of my all-time faves, Traditional Jamaican Pumpkin Beef Soup next!

gungo peas soup in bowl with dumplings, vegetables and ground provision.

Gungo Peas Soup

Gungo peas soup with or without meat is a delicious medley of pigeon peas, sweet potatoes, yams, dumplings, and plenty of Jamaican herbs and seasonings. It’s the perfect “Saturday Soup” that the whole family can enjoy!

Growing up in a Jamaican-Canadian household, Saturdays always meant one thing; soup was going to be made! Especially living in Canada, where the Fall, Winter, and Spring months bring about cool and colder temperatures, soup was thus a guarantee! Served hot, Jamaican pigeon peas soup has a slightly nutty, earthy taste and fills you up on a cold winter day.

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • A Crowd Pleaser – this soup is an affordable way to feed a large group.
  • Healthy – gungo peas are high in fiber and protein so they’re a great addition to a healthy diet. Additionally, this soup is full of nutrient-dense vegetables like yams and sweet potatoes.
  • Versatile – it can be loaded with meat or made meatless. Either way, it’s a deliciously satisfying meal!
  • Easy to Prepare – this soup is so simple to make, that even novice cooks will do it with ease! Simply add your desired ingredients, simmer, and serve!
  • The Ultimate Comfort Meal – this one pot meal is hearty enough to keep you full but has light ingredients that don’t make you feel groggy or lethargic.
frozen green pigeon peas in a bag.

What are Gungo Peas?

Gungo peas, also known as pigeon peas, are a legume grown in tropical places such as Puerto Rico and Jamaica. They are native to Africa but can be found throughout the Caribbean islands and in Caribbean cuisine. The term “gungo peas” is how most Jamaicans refer to the bean.

Gungo peas are small and round and vary in color from bright green to dark brown. They are typically served in rice, such as this delicious Easy Jamaican Pigeon “Gungo” Peas and Rice.

What is Ground Provision?

Ground provisions are a term used for Caribbean starchy vegetables that grow underground.

Some commonly used ground provisions include yams, sweet potatoes, dasheen (taro), eddo and cassava (yucca or manioc).

They are prepared in a variety of ways, however they are usually the only or main source of carbohydrates for the meal. Other provision or “food” as Jamaicans say also include breadfruit, green bananas, and plantains.

fresh green gungo peas in clear bowl.

What’s Needed to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)

  • Large Stock Pot – a stock pot is often much taller than a regular large pot. The tall sides help to prevent too much liquid from evaporating during the cooking process, as well as helping to reduce any potential spillage. Not to mention, great for big batches of soup!
  • Long Handled Wooden Spoon – the handle of this spoon will stay cool while stirring the soup, as well it will not scratch your pot.
  • Ladle – this kitchen tool has a deep rounded bottom, perfect for scooping up heaping portions of the soup as well as all the vegetables, ground provision and meat.

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

  • Green Pigeon Peas – it can be very difficult to find fresh green pigeon peas, so typically frozen green gungo peas are used. Thaw when ready to use or add from frozen to the pot of boiling water.
  • Water – essential to start the soup, of course. Start with 12 cups and add additional cups along the way if needed.
  • Escallion – also known as scallions, green onions, or spring onions. Crush them using the blade of a knife or handle of a knife.
  • Garlic – use large cloves and crush them using the bottom of a can or between two cutting boards.
  • Pimento Seeds – also known as allspice berries, this adds a woody, cinnamon like flavour but is not overpowering.
  • Ground Provision – sweet potato peeled, cut into chunks, yellow yam peeled, cut into chunks, coco yam peeled and cut into chunks.
  • Carrot –  use large, peeled and sliced carrots or carrots cut into chunks.
  • Chocho (cayote) –   also known as cayote is a type of squash and has a taste between a mild apple and cucumber with a crisp texture. You can either slice or cut it into chunks as well.
  • Dumpling –  a mixture of all purpose flour, water and salt rolled into circular shaped dumplings. Recipe listed below.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper – this packs a good spicy punch, and flavour to the soup. Alternatively, you can use habanero peppers or your favourite variety of pepper. Be sure to keep it whole (don’t let it burst), as the soup may become too spicy.
  • Beef Bouillon – or vegetable bouillon for added depth of flavour.
  • Seasoning – all purpose seasoning or seasoning salt, salt more or less to taste, and black pepper.
  • Coconut Milk – this adds depth of flavour and also makes the soup extra rich!
gungo peas soup ingredient flatlay.

Optional Ingredients

  • Beef Shank – you can also use stewing beef, cut into large chunks as it will shrink down and break apart as the soup cooks. I prefer using beef shank with the bone, as it provides an added rich flavour. Omit for the vegan version.
  • Cured Bone-In Beef – also referred to as salt beef (salted beef). Cut into chunks, and ensure you take the time to boil out some of the salt. Omit for the vegan version.
  • Corn – use whole corn on the cob, cut into four pieces.
  • Ground Provision – yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, dasheen, eddo, cassava, etc.

Flour Dumplings

  • All Purpose Flour – you can also use other varieties of flour such as whole wheat, gluten-free etc.
  • Water – more, or less may be needed.
  • Salt – to taste.

How to Make Gungo Peas Soup

1. Prepare Cured/Salted Beef (if using – omit for vegan version)

Add water to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Then add cured/salted beef and boil for about 20 minutes to remove salt and discard water and set aside beef. Repeat until the desired amount of salt has been boiled out.

2. Cook Beef (skip for vegan version) & Pigeon “Gungo” Peas

In the same large stockpot, bring 12 cups of fresh water to a rapid boil. Carefully add the beef shank or stewing beef, cured/salted beef if using, and peas. Allow to boil for about 30 minutes to an hour or until the beef and peas are mid-tender.

3. Add in Ground Provision

While beef and peas are boiling, prepare your other fresh ingredients; sweet potato, yellow yam, coco yam, carrot, chocho (chayote), dumpling and scotch bonnet pepper; set aside.

When beef and peas are more on the tender side add the remaining fresh ingredients including the dumpling and add an additional cup of water to ensure all soup ingredients are covered; reduce heat to medium.

4. Add Coconut Milk and Season

Pour in coconut milk, and season with beef or vegetable bouillon, all purpose seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Give a good stir, taste test and adjust if necessary; allow to simmer for an additional 15 mins. Remove scotch bonnet pepper and thyme sprigs, serve while hot, and enjoy!

gungo peas soup in bowl with dumplings, vegetables and ground provision.

How to Make Boiled Dumpling for Soup

Adding these boiled flour dumplings adds body to the soup. It makes a more broth like soup, hearty and filling for those who indulge. Here’s some instructions on how to make them:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, add flour and salt then gradually add water and use your hand to knead and form the dough for the dumplings. Dough should be soft but not sticky and wet.
  2. Pinch or cut off 6 equal sized pieces. In the palm of your hand using a circular motion, form each piece into a ball, flatten slightly, and fold the edges of the dough into the center creating small round wheels. Set each dumpling aside.

See My Story Below for Step-by-Step Instructions

Recipe Substitutions and Tips

  • Gungo Peas – for this gungo peas soup recipe I used frozen gungo peas but you can use canned or dried instead. Canned is the quickest method if you’re trying to save some time because they don’t need to be soaked. If you opt for dried, soak them for a few hours or overnight then simmer them until they are tender (about 30 minutes).
  • Meat – you can use a variety of meats in gungo soup. I would suggest adding either smoked turkey or beef.
  • Vegan – omit the meat and beef bouillon for vegan gungo pea soup. You can add even more vegetables to the soup and even replace the water with vegetable broth or swap the beef bouillon for vegetable.
  • Dumpling – instead of using white all purpose flour, swap the flour and use gluten-free or whole wheat dumplings.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper – you can use habanero peppers or your favourite variety of pepper as a substitute for scotch bonnet.
  • Potatoes – you can substitute sweet potatoes with regular potatoes.
  • More Veggies – you can mix and match vegetables. Add ingredients like onions, celery, red pepper, cauliflower, and fresh callaloo (or spinach or kale), it’s all up to you and preference!
gungo peas soup boiling in large stockpot.

Serving Suggestions and Tips

This is a one pot meal so it is usually not served alongside any other food items, however, you can serve it with:

  • Bread – warm crusty bread or Jamaican hard dough bread.
  • Crackers – soup crackers or Jamaican water crackers.
  • White Rice – the flavourful base of this soup would go well with plain rice, just ensure you all the soup to boil down until thickened into a stew-like consistency.

Recipe Notes and Tips for Success

  • Soak your Peas – there are many ways in which you can prepare your peas for example, some soak, others use a pressure cooker to cut the time in half. For this method, we soak. This will lessen the amount of time it will take for your dried peas to become tender when cooking. You can also choose to purchase canned green pigeon peas, this will eliminate the need to soak and cook your peas to tender however the flavour profile will vary.
  • Don’t Defrost Frozen Peas – frozen peas do not need to be defrosted before cooking.
  • Water/Stock Level – always make sure there’s enough water in your pot to cover your ingredients at all times. Enough water to cover the beef (if using) and peas during the cooking process. Enough water to cover all your vegetables and dumplings to allow the soup to simmer.
  • Type of Peas – this dish is made with dried/green pigeon “gungo” peas. However, you can also substitute with red kidney beans, similar to Stew Peas.
  • Large Stock Pot – once you add in all your vegetables, dumplings, and chicken things can get crowded, ensure you use a large enough pot.
  • Dumplings – when the dumplings begin to float to the top, they are ready.
gungo peas soup in bowl with dumplings, vegetables and ground provision.

Can I Make this Ahead of Time?

Some of the vegetables can be prepped (washed and peeled) ahead of time or from the night before. However, for making the soup the ahead, its most common to make soup the day of and enjoy leftovers the day after. Soup is one of the best meals to make ahead because it freezes so well.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover gungo peas soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. This soup freezes well and can last in the freezer for up to one month. It would last up to three months without the dumplings.

Reheating Instructions

Reheat the soup by putting it on the stove in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil then let it simmer until it reaches your desired temperature. If frozen, let the soup defrost in the fridge overnight before warming it up.

gungo peas soup in bowl with dumplings, vegetables and ground provision.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between soup and stew?

Stews are thicker than soups. Stews tend to have large chunks of meat or veggies. If you prefer a thicker gungo peas soup, use less liquid and add more starchy vegetables.

Are Gungo peas the same as pigeon peas?

Yes. Gungo peas are just another name for pigeon peas.

Where Can I Find the Ingredients Listed?

Head to the nearest Caribbean or West Indian food market, alternatively you can find many of these ingredients at an Asian food market as well. If none of these are in your local area, refer to the substitution and variations list above to find alternatives.

Interested in more Jamaican Recipes? Check These Out!

gungo peas soup in bowl with dumplings, vegetables and ground provision.

Gungo Peas Soup

Gungo Peas Soup is a classic flavourful Jamaican soup loaded with pigeon (gungo) peas, dumplings and hearty ground provision then simmered to cozy perfection for the ultimate Caribbean comfort meal. This pigeon peas soup comes together in less than two hours and can easily be made vegetarian or vegan for the perfect Saturday or any day soup!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Jamaican, Soups & Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 2875 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Stockpot
  • Long Handled Wooden Spoon
  • Ladle

Ingredients
  

  • 600 g Green Pigeon Peas frozen, gungo peas
  • 12 cups Water
  • 2 stalks Escallion crushed
  • 2 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 8 whole Pimento Seeds allspice berries
  • 1/2 large Sweet Potato peeled, cut into chunks
  • 2 slices Yellow Yam peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 med Coco Yam peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 large Carrot peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 large Chocho cayote, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 6 Dumpling recipe below
  • 1 whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper
  • 1 105g Beef Bouillon or vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tsp All Purpose Seasoning or seasoning salt
  • 1 tsp Salt more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 400ml Can Coconut Milk

Optional Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds Salted Beef beef shank or stewing beef, omit for vegan version
  • 1 whole Corn cut into four
  • Ground Provision yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, dasheen, eddo, cassava etc.

Flour Dumplings

  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Instructions
 

Prepare Cured/Salted Beef (if using)

  • Add water to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Then add cured/salted beef and boil for about 20 minutes to remove salt and discard water and set aside beef. Repeat if necessary until desired amount of salt has been been boiled out.

Cook Beef (if using) & Pigeon "Gungo" Peas

  • In the same large stockpot, bring to rapid boil 12 cups of fresh water. Carefully add the beef shank or stewing beef, cured/salted beef if using and peas. Allow to boil for about 30 minutes to an hour or until the beef and peas are mid-tender.

Gungo Peas Soup

  • While beef and peas are boiling, prepare your other fresh ingredients; sweet potato, yellow yam, coco yam, carrot, chocho, dumpling and scotch bonnet pepper; set aside.
  • When beef and peas are more on the tender side add the remaining fresh ingredients including the dumpling and add an additional cup of water to ensure all soup ingredients are covered; reduce heat to medium.
  • Pour in coconut milk, and season with beef or vegetable bouillon, all purpose seasoning, salt and black pepper. Give a good stir, taste test and adjust if necessary; allow to simmer for an additional 15 mins. Remove scotch bonnet pepper and thyme sprigs, serve while hot and enjoy!

Dumpling

  • In a medium mixing bowl, add flour and salt then gradually add water and use your hand to knead and form the dough for the spinners. Dough should be soft but not sticky and wet.
  • Pinch or cut off 6 to 8 equal sized pieces. Use the palms of your hands to make long thin dumpling style spinners. Set each spinner aside.

Video

Notes

Flour Dumplings – you may not need all the water listed to form the dumplings. You may need a little more or less, depending on the flour. Add water gradually.
Level of Spice – don’t let the scotch bonnet pepper burst, unless you want a spicer soup.
Water/Stock Level – always make sure there’s enough water in your pot to cover your ingredients at all times. Enough water to cover the beef (if using) and peas during the cooking process. Enough water to cover all your vegetables and dumplings to allow the soup to simmer.
See detailed notes above for additional tips.

Nutrition

Calories: 2875kcalCarbohydrates: 550gProtein: 153gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 5989mgPotassium: 9540mgFiber: 104gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 36621IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 985mgIron: 41mg
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