Callaloo soup is immensely popular in Saint Lucia. A wonderfully tasty “comfort food”, you will find callaloo soup on the menu in many restaurants, as well as being served at home, prepared from scratch. There are two main ingredients. One is the Caribbean strain of greens that we in the West would call spinach – callaloo leaves. The other is okra – or “okro” as it is often called in the Caribbean.
Okro was introduced to Saint Lucia, as well as many other isles in the region, centuries ago by Africans, where it has been indigenous for millennia. Since Africans call the vegetable “okro”, that name has stuck with it where it wound up being transplanted.
There are many variations on this delightful soup, mostly having to do with what else goes into it. Always it is mainly callaloo and okro, but it can have either meat or seafood in it as well. Garnishes will differ, also. Some like avocado slices with it, some prefer to add various degrees of hot peppers. Some people put slices of uncooked tomatoes in each serving.
This recipe is a traditional version, with crab meat, corned beef, and hot peppers. The peppers are optional, if you don’t like hot, spicy foods.
Saint Lucian Callaloo Soup Recipe-
- 2 lb. callaloo leaves (if using fresh leaves. If you are using canned callaloo, a 16 oz. can will do)
- 1-1/2 cups (chopped into little chunks) fresh okra (You can also use canned okra, if you can’t find fresh)
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped fine
- 1/2 lb. corned beef, fat removed and diced
- 1/2 lb. crab meat
- 6 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
- 1/2 tsp. dried crushed thyme leaves
- 4 Scotch Bonnet chili peppers, left whole (Note: for super hot and spicy, leave seeds in. For less heat, remove the seeds)
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black peppercorns (or to taste)
- salt, to taste (optional)
- If using fresh callaloo, remove the thick stems from the leaves, and rough chop them. If using canned callaloo, drain the brine off, and whether fresh or canned, place them into a large cooking pot or a large, deep saucepan.
- Add in the corned beef, crab meat, shallots, thyme, chicken stock, onion and chili peppers.
- Salt and pepper to taste. (Note: traditionally, callaloo soup was not salted, only peppered. However, modern tastes have gotten “saltier” and nowadays the soup will be salted. Adding salt is not “wrong” but a matter of your choice, as well as how much to add)
- If you are using fresh okra, add it in at this point as well.
- Cover the pot or pan, bring the soup to a vigorous, rolling boil; then reduce the heat to just a lively simmer. Gently cook until meat is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- If you are using canned okra, add it into the pot just 10 minutes before the soup is done cooking.
- Remove the chili peppers, and set aside.
- Use a food processor or an electric blender, and puree the soup. Put it back in to the pot. Do a taste test, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Reheat until nice and hot.
- To serve your Saint Lucian Callaloo Soup, ladle out 4 equal portions into serving bowls, making sure one whole chili pepper is included in each serving.
Note: for more great recipes from the Caribbean, click here.
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