“Culinary at Home with Hector | Chicken Soup Jamaica Style!” is not just a recipe. It talks about the Jamaican culture and tradition handed down to generations.

Every part of the chicken is used for food. So, chicken soup may be more specific as to the part that’s used. For example, it could be regular chicken soup, chicken foot or back. It may even be a combination.

In any case, the choices of ingredients will be the same. And, you’ll have your desired chicken soup Jamaican style. The aim here, however, isn’t to offer specific quantities of the ingredients.

It’s all about knowing what goes into it as there’s no correct portions in Hector’s kitchen. You cook according to the number of people, the ingredients you choose to use, and your preferred taste.

Yellow Yam, Corn, Okra, Scotch Bonnet Pepper, Scallion, Thyme

Professional Culinary Skills | Not Required

Most Jamaican families share and pass down traditions to the next generation. Sometimes they stick to the original recipe. But, quite often, someone will add their own variation.

It’s also common to have different variations depending on what part of the island you’re from. In addition, families adopt certain days to cook a particular meal.

Saturday is traditionally soup day for many Jamaicans including the Campbell’s family. And, you’ll find that some who have migrated to other countries continue the tradition.

It’s convenient to buy everything fresh on Saturday, the prominent produce market day. That’s when most farmers and other vendors come out with their goods.

With that said, soup day can be any day or every day of the week. Whether you make it fresh every day or have left overs it’s up to you.

So, what special skills do you need to cook a pot of delicious and nutritious chicken soup. Usually, you’ll have a devoted grandmother or other family member. And, they have a way of getting it just right.

That’s all the culinary skills you’ll need. So, just stick around and learn. You’ll be the expert training the next generation before you know it.

Creative Culinary Choices | To Each His Own

Here are some ingredients to consider when making your chicken soup Jamaican style. Select what suits you or use all of them. Everyone has different preferences.

Cho Cho (Chayote)
  • Chicken: The whole chicken or breast, leg, thigh, back, neck, wing, or foot.
  • Yams: Choose yellow, white, or sweet.
  • Other Starches: Dasheen, coco, young breadfruit, potatoes, green bananas, dumplings (flour, cornmeal, wheat) are favorites.
  • Vegetables: Pumpkin, carrots, corn, okra, sweet potatoes, cho cho (chayote) help to add richness and color.
  • Beans and Peas: Gungu peas, red peas or beans contribute their own flavor.
  • Seasonings: Use a combination of seasonings. Choose scallion, thyme, onion, assorted peppers (scotch bonnet), garlic, pimento seeds (allspice), bay leaves, salt
  • Water or Stock: Water is preferred as there’s enough flavor when all ingredients come together.


General Guidelines | Basic Steps

First, decide how many people you’re cooking for. Choose the pot accordingly. And, determine the estimated quantity of each item per person. Bear in mind, you may want to have leftovers.

It would also be a good idea to soak peas overnight or for a few hours ahead of time if you’re adding those.

  1. Cut or chop chicken in segments. Some individuals add it to cold water then bring to a boil. Others prefer to add it to boiling water.
  2. You’ll get a great flavor from the beginning if you add pimento and garlic with the chicken. However, some people add all the seasonings at the beginning.
  3. Add ingredients in order of the hardest to cook first.
  4. You’ll add the other seasonings last. Reduce the flame and allow to simmer until everything is cooked. Be careful with the pepper as some are very spicy.

You’ll have plenty to do during cooking time. For example, peel the breadfruit and add that. Next you could make the dumplings. Then peel the ground provisions and vegetables. Finally, prepare the seasonings.

Another alternative is to prepare everything at once. However, some foods such as yellow yam and green bananas will turn dark while exposed to the air.


Personal Preferences | Likes and Dislikes

People like or dislike things for personal reasons. Furthermore, some people have allergies that prevent them from eating certain foods even if the like them. Let’s look at some of these preferences.

Chicken parts: Other cultures may find it strange that people eat chicken foot. And, some individuals in Jamaica wouldn’t be caught eating it. On the contrary, that may be the favorite part for others.

Similarly, many people would consider the chicken back inferior to other parts. But, I personally know people who would kill for their chicken bone. As such, the chicken back is their preference.

Dumplings: Here’s where the difference can be more noticeable. Most people use plain flour dumplings exclusively. But, there are individuals who prefer to add cornmeal or wheat.

Okra: For or against? All some people think of is slime, yet it’s a favorite for many others.

Pepper: There are so many types and flavors. Not everyone has the tolerance for hot pepper. On the other hand, don’t omit that ingredient for others. They will not forgive you for robbing them of that particular flavor.

Seasonings: Scallion (skellion, escallion) is a winner in many soups. And some people actually love eating it. Others take out all the seasonings once the soup is cooked. Use whatever combination you like.

Scallion, Escallion, Skellion, Green Onions

Food for Thought | What Dominates

Pumpkin or Other Type of Squash: A rich pumpkin soup is not only colorful but also rich in nutrients.

Gungu Peas: This has a distinctive and unmistakable flavor.

Red Peas: The color of the peas may be dominant in the chicken soup.

Corn: Use plenty of corn to give an added item to enjoy all by itself.

Chicken Foot: It has gelatinous collagen unlike other parts of the chicken. This gives it a unique flavor.

Scotch Bonnet vs Other Peppers: Scotch bonnet tends to be a favorite because of its flavor. Some types are spicier than others.

Texture: The overall texture of the chicken soup depends on the ingredients you use. Additionally, it will be thin or thick based on how soft the foods are cooked.

For instance, you could allow the pumpkin to remain soft or cook it down to a puree. You could also do the same thing with other ingredients.


Traditionally, your soup takes on your preferred taste. However, you’ll find similarities when you compare recipes with others. Get creative and add your own spin if you like.

What makes your chicken soup stand out? Is it the choice of basic ingredients? Or, is it a special combination of seasonings? Your family may have made it the same way throughout generations. It’s all good.

We focused on cooking Jamaican style. But, we welcome feedback from all cultures. It’s interesting to share what goes on within cultures and between different cultures. So, let’s hear from you.

I hope you enjoyed “Culinary at Home with Hector | Chicken Soup Jamaican Style!” Share your story whether or not it’s about the Jamaican chicken soup. You may have your own tradition. So, share your story.

Please feel free to leave your questions and comments below.

Veron Lee Campbell | Entrepreneur | The Way 4WordEnterprises

Pot of Chicken Soup


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