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West Indian Chicken Soup with Dumplings

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West Indian Chicken Soup

Some of you may have noticed that I was a bit quiet on the blog 2 weeks ago.  I had a horrible cold that kept me out of the kitchen for almost all of the past 2 weeks. I was so congested and couldn’t taste much so it didn’t make sense to try to cook.  Nevermind that I felt like crap warmed over. When my steady diet of ginger ale and sour creme & onion chips didn’t seem to be making me feel any better, I wanted only one thing- my mom’s chicken soup.  Not being able to get to her and her healing soup, I ventured to make it myself.  I know, I know, it’s so cliché.  I don’t think anyone can deny that a hot bowl of chicken soup does seem to make one better, though. Whether that bowl of soup is just warming you up on a cold day or helping to wipe out a cold, it always does the trick.

I know you’re nodding your head in agreement right now, but perhaps you’re asking “What makes it West Indian soup?”.  Well, for one thing, it’s filled to the brim with root vegetables that are common in Caribbean cooking. The seasonings used like turmeric, clove, allspice and thyme also give the soup its unique flavor. Many Caribbean cultures make a soup that is similar. Provisions or root veggies like potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, yuca and carrots are used, but each island or group of people put their own spin on it. In general, they all seem to be “kitchen sink” soups. You know, everything and the kitchen sink have been thrown into the pot like the Latin American Sancocho. These soups (most are more like stews) are usually very  rustic. They have some sort of meat, sometimes more than one type, tons of vegetables and whatever else one can find in the cupboard like peas or beans. This chicken and dumpling soup is in the same vein or ladle as the case may be.

I used most of the same veggies my mother usually uses, but this soup is also delicious with sweet (ripe) or green (unripe) plantain, green banana, cassava (a.k.a. yuca), cabbage, pretty much anything you like and feel like eating that day.  I’ve included the usual suspects onions, potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin. Then for some of you, the not so usual, white and yellow yams, dasheen (a.k.a. eddo, taro), and christophine (a.k.a. chayote, chow-chow, cho-cho and a millions other names).  I would love to go on and on about the origins, history, and descriptions of these vegetables but that would take too long. Basically these are root vegetables that are originally from Africa, India, and the Americas and are very common in Caribbean dishes. Most taste like potatoes with subtle flavor and texture differences, and all taste yummy in this soup.  The end result is a soup that sticks to your ribs like nothing that comes out of a can.

onion, green onion, potatoes, carrots, pumpkin

yellow yam, white yam, dasheen, christophine

Now, for the stars of the show, the chicken and dumplings. I chose to use chicken wings because while it would be easier to remove the skin and the bones from the legs, I like chicken wings. It’s that simple.  I don’t mind bones, bones are good, bones contain marrow. Mmmm. You could even use chicken breast, but it won’t be as flavorful. Remember, I said this soup is rustic. It’s a soup of the people. The people don’t mind bones in their soup. Viva La Revolución!  Just kidding; it’s not that serious. The dumplings, though, are serious. If you’re thinking of wonton wrapper things filled with meat and veggies, stop! These dumplings are a dough made simply from flour, salt and water.  They are rolled into torpedo shaped yummy goodness then dropped into the boiling soup to absorb some more yummy goodness. For me this soup exists solely as a vehicle for the dumplings, seriously.

torpedo shaped dumpling

Okay, on to making this soup. Invite everyone over because this serves about 12, but it does freeze well if you’re a family of 2.  It takes about 15 minutes to prepare and about 2 hours to cook.  Because of the time it takes, this might be more of a weekend dish, but don’t hesitate to try making it; it will be worth it.  Enjoy!    Ingredients:

  • Cock Soup seasonings and thyme
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 lb fresh pumpkin ( I used Calabasa)
  • 1 small yellow yam
  • 1 small white yam
  • 1 small-medium dasheen
  • 2 christophines
  • 5 sprigs of Thyme
  • 4 tablespoons ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons seasoning salt (like Lawry’s), divided
  • 1 packet of  spicy cock soup mix (like Grace’s)
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

For Dumplings:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon  cold butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons water


1. Peel and coarsely chop vegetables. Cut off white bulbs from green onions and throw out. Finely chop green onion and set aside.

2. Season chicken wings with 1 tablespoon black pepper and 1/2 tablespoon seasoning salt.  In a 6 qt. stock pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chopped onion and cook for about 2 minutes until softened.  Add chicken wings and brown. Once chicken has browned, add in chopped vegetables except for the pumpkin (the pumpkin will cook quicker so goes in later unless like me you buy really hard , tough calabasa) and the green onion.

3. Add about 5 quarts of water or more if vegetables are not covered. Add green onions, thyme leaves, allspice, remaining salt, pepper and spicy soup mix. Stir to mix, then cover. Increase heat and bring to a boil.

4.  Allow soup to boil for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove any fat that had risen to the top with a spoon. Add pumpkin.

5. In a bowl, mix flour and salt together.  Cut butter into pieces and with a fork or dough cutter cut into the flour. The flour should become crumbly.  Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until dough just comes together. Lightly knead dough. Do not overwork dough, or the dumplings will be tough. Divide dough into quarter sized balls. Roll dough into rope like shapes (like when you were a kid playing with play-doh) and drop into boiling soup. Stir.

6. Cook for about 5 minutes. The vegetables should be starting to get fork tender now. Check that they are soft but not turning to mush.  Lower heat and simmer until soup thickens up. Additional seasonings can be added to taste. Simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve hot with crackers or a hearty slice of thick bread on the side.

  skim fat that has risen to the top       

52 responses »

  1. Oh sis….you are taking me back. So proud to see this tradition of Mom’s soup carry on in you.

  2. Very nice recipe. I will definitely have to try this. Great post

  3. Thank you so very much for this recipe. This is as close to my mom’s recipe as it can get. It tastes the exact same, and is very necessary for this time of the year.

    • I am so glad that you tried the recipe and were happy with the results. I was surprised by how much it tasted like my mother’s soup, but I guess I’ve eaten it enough to get it close. Thanks for the comment and happy soup eating!

  4. You never said what to do with the green onion. Do with sprinkle on the soup when done?

    • Angel, you’re absolutely right. Thanks for pointing out my omission. The green onions can be added during step 3 with the herbs and spices. I will make that correction.

  5. Thank you! I made the soup and it came out great! My veggies cooked a little too fast so its definitely like a thick stew. I didnt add the green onions because I forgot to check back to this page before finishing but this will be a staple in my home from now on! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you for the dumpling receipt. Exactly what I needed for my soup. Took my back to the days when my mother made soup with dumplings. Thanks again.

  7. About to make this soup right now….will let you all know how it turns out 🙂

  8. 😦 I got sick with the change of weather… Im definatly going to try this recipe first thing when I wake up in the morning. I might have to add a scotch bonnet or two i like it spicy 🙂 Thanx for posting this

  9. I’ve made this recipe 4 times now, thanks so much it’s amazing

    • Danni, I am so happy that not only did you like the soup but that you find it to be a go-to recipe you’ll keep using. That just makes my day. Thank you for inspiring me to want to cook and blog a lot more than I have in a long time.

  10. was feeling ashamed to say I am a small island girl and dint know how to make traditional soup that i used to eat all the time as a kid. this recipe was so easy to follow…………I no longer feel ashamed it was delicious!!!!!!!

    Thank you xxx

    • First, don’t ever feel ashamed because nothing can take away your West Indianess. 😀 Second, I’m so glad that this recipe helped you to feel closer to your roots or at least to enjoy a nice home cooked meal. I appreciate your feedback. Keep cooking!

  11. My husband is from Saint Lucia he enjoys these types of dishes. I am from the US so my past attempts to master this dish have been horrible. The dumplings never turn out right. After reading your recipe this morning i will make another attempt to make this soup.

    • I am west indian guyanese, born here though i love soup im going to use your reciepie but thing is my husband called my dumplings concrete, i hope they come out like yours now.>>> 🙂 tell u how it came outtt…

  12. This reminds me of my grandma chicken soup. I will definitely make this before the month ends. Thanks a million.

  13. I made this soup for my family, it was a big hit. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • I’ve been eating this soup all week and I’m so happy you’re making it for your family. I am always so happy when eating it. It may be due mainly to the association to childhood memories, but I think it’s really because the ingredients, herbs, and spices come together to create something magical. The dumplings are especially magical! 🙂

  14. I tried this yesterday. This was great. 1 minor adjustment for my next run I think 1 Tablespoon of blackpepper is enough. I also added Lentils and which gave it an awesome texture. But overall, this is a great soup. I called my mom and bragged after this one. Of course I sent her the URL to share the goodies as well. Thanks for your post

    • Jeremy, Thank you so much for your great comment. People like you make me not only excited about creating new recipes but especially West Indian recipes. This soup gets the most views and the most comments. It makes me so happy because this is one of those defining cultural dishes and my favorite from childhood. Thank you for the follow as well. -Tessa

      • Maybe because its the first thing that pops up whenever you google “West Indian Chicken Soup.” The images pulls you right in. West Indians recipes are hard to find because people from different Islands call the same dish by a different names. Also, if you are like my mom, she does not measure anything, so its hard for me to learn and make these great culture dish. But this one was right on point.

      • I’m laughing to myself because NO old school West Indian measures when cooking, even baking. It’s difficult for me to recreate dishes too. My mother tells me to “add water to the flour just until it’s wet” LOL OKAY! I’m still trying to figure out how to make banana and pumpkin fritters the way she does. Which island(s) is your family from?

      • St. Kitts, St. Thomas and st Croix. I was born in St. Kitts. Lol at “add water to the flour just until it’s wet”. If you ever attempt to make those fritters, make sure you post it. Lol. Also, my mom makes a dish call “Cook-up” Rice, beans and chicken. Kind of like a West Indian version of paella. Thats the next thing on my list. Where is your family from?

      • Well, shoot! I bet we’re cousins. My father’s family is from Antigua but my mother and her family are from St. Kitts and moved to St. Thomas where my sister and I were born. I lived there the first 3 years of my life. Most of my mother’s family is still in St. Thomas. I love cook up rice. That’s when you just have a bit of chicken left over like the back and u throw it in some rice and beans or peas. LOL the best dishes are the throw everything left in the pot dishes. I will be sure to post the fritters. Before I knew anything about pancakes, waffles, and french toast, breakfast was all about porridge, saltfish, and fritters. And if mommy was feeling up to it…Johhny Cakes!

  15. Post the Cook up rice and beans as well using chicken wings!!!!!!! lol yummmmmmmmmm

  16. My son is 7 and has been banging on about this soup for a year now! As his grandmother always made it for him in Jamaica before she passed away, I shoes him the picture and said is this it??? His face lit up…..were now going to cook it on Saturday 🙂 hope it tastes half as good as she made it
    Thank you x

  17. I have just made this soup and it’s soooo yummy!!! Thanks for posting such easy-to-follow steps and all the inviting pictures as well! My daughter ate this at a neighbour’s house while we lived in Trinidad and raved about it for months. I have tried since then to make it for her, but this is my best effort ever 🙂
    (To give some background; I’m British-born Nigerian so have no history with this dish.)
    Thank you, Tessa!!

    • Funke! You’re welcome, but it’s really my pleasure to know my recipe was easy to follow and yielded delicious results. Thanks for your feedback!

  18. Made this soup twice now and had fantastic results. Nearly ate the whole pot to myself it was that good second time around. Please more recipes!!!!!!!

    • Thank you for trying the recipe and commenting, Kenneth. I’m working on new recipes. I really want to add a lot more West Indian recipes to this blog- traditional and some with a new twist.

  19. Tried this chicken soup with dumpling but added 4 green chillies as all at home like a bit of heat in thier food. It turned out to be great. Thanks a lot for showing this lovely soup still licking my bowl ha ha.

  20. Right on point girrrl!! Rock City posseee in the house!! Love it! I wasn’t feeling well and one of my girrrl-friends from Tortola brought me some “homemade soup”..(yeah right). How she missed it, I’ll never know, but girrrl I followed this recipe to the T. Had to take her a bowl and tell her…..THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT!! (She mad now, she’ll get over over it though, that’s how we fool around). More recipes please! Big up!!

  21. You all made me feel so home with your comments, thanks. I grew up on our version of this soup (though not much of an eater, I hated it back then), and I’ve been longing for this taste for a while now. Where I live in Honduras they make a variation of this, but it just never tastes like our Bajan Chicken Soup. Reading through this recipe I can almost taste the soup and it tastes like home. Thank you for the recipe, going to the market now to buy the ingredients. BTW, LOL at the flour and water comment…my mum is the exact same way….her variations for her “american daughter” are USE ABOUT A HALF OF the can or DONT USE ALL THE BUTTER (this is after I’ve measured the 1-1/2 sticks that she told me to use)

  22. I am originally from the caribbean and have never known how to make this soup, I have recently looked at your website and was very pleased to find this recipe. I really want to try making this soup, however, I cannot find in your recipe the quantity of chicken needed. Very fustrating!! Please can you help.

  23. Just made it. It’s wonderful. My partner is woofy it down as we speak. Best soup I’ve made he says. So thanks for the receipe.

  24. Definitely will be making this tonite for my family as my husband as a cold so I think this will do him some good, might add some pepper aswel but I hope this won’t ruin the recipe! Thank you for sharing this recipe online!!! Xx

  25. This soup was exactly what I was looking for! I have always loved the chicken soup that I have tasted from the local West Indian restaurants here in NY. I have tried several other recipes, but none duplicated the taste like this one did!! Some alterations I made were I added two packets of the cock soup and make sure to use the pumpkin that has the green shell. That one gives the soup more flavor and color.

  26. This recipe was absolutely on point. When I saw the pictures and ingredients I knew it was authentic. My grandmother used to make this soup for us all of the time and I haven’t had it in so long. I made this tonight for my family (husband, 6 year old and 3 year old) and they tore it up. Absolutely delicious. Thanks so much.

  27. This recipe was absolutely on point. When I saw the ingredients and pictures I knew it was authentic. My grandmother used to make this soup for us all the time as kids. She is no longer here with us, but some of her recipes love on. I haven’t had this soup in so long so I couldn’t wait to try your version. It tastes EXACTLY THE SAME! What nostalgia. I made it for my family tonight (husband, 3 year Olaf and 6 year old) and they tore it up. Thanks so much for sharing and your easy-to-follow- directions.

  28. What can we use if we don’t have the Cocks packet soup mix? Sorry I am in Australia! Or can I simply omit that part?

  29. Please email me your gorgeous recipes please thankyou.xx

  30. Candice Hockley

    Hi iv made this a few times now it’s so good but iv always added in my own spices as iv neve known what the salt seasoning is. Can someone please let me know what it is. Thanks x

    • Hi, Candice. Thank you for trying my recipe and commenting. The seasoning salt I used is the Lawry’s brand. It has a mixture of spices, mostly salt. You can get the same flavors from just sea salt or kosher salt, but the amount may have to be adjusted.

  31. Kittitians girl

    Feels great to see my fellow St. Kitts born/roots people (Kittitians) here. Fantastic recipe! Just like how our St. Kitts people would cook it. Great texture and taste!


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