A Taste of the Caribbean – Callaloo Soup

February 17, 2012  •  Soup

I just returned from sailing for a couple of weeks in the Caribbean with my husband and two other couples – to say it was spectacular would be an understatement. We traveled south through the Windward Islands, from St. Lucia all the way to Grenada, stopping at many islands along the way. From the very first place we went ashore I began seeing Callaloo Soup on the menu. Always intrigued to try what’s local to a region, I tried it – and I think at least one person in our group ordered it for every meal after that, it was that good.The main star in Callaloo Soup is the callaloo, which can be misleading. Locals told us it was a local kind of spinach. Online research reveals that amaranth or other greens are used, sometimes water spinach, and that callaloo is the term used to mean any of these greens used in the soup. I also learned that the soup was a created by slaves brought to the Caribbean – they utilized the local greens and mixed them with okra – something borrowed from their African heritage – to make Callaloo Soup. We had it in both thicker and thinner varieties – locals sometimes use the thicker as a gravy of sorts. If you try to find Callaloo Soup recipes online you’ll find that many are not a pureed soup, but rather more like a stew that uses greens, in addition to lots of things you’d find in the Caribbean like lobster. Since we only ever saw it as a pureed soup, that’s what I created the very first day I was back. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as my friends and I did!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Callaloo Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 small shallots, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup celery leaves (optional)
  • 4-6 cloves roasted garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cans chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1 pound fresh spinach
  • 8 ounces cut frozen okra
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat and add onion and shallot; cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add celery (if using), garlic, ginger, stock, and coconut milk and stir together. Add spinach, okra, nutmeg, coriander, and chile flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Puree with a stick blender or in a traditional blender and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Comments

16 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Kirsten@My German Kitchen...in the Rockies says:

    Hi Michele, welcome back! Sounds like a great route you sailed.
    Where are the pictures? Thanks for a new soup recipe. I have never heard of Callaloo soup.

  2. Karen Harris says:

    I’m with you, when in Rome . . . I always bring some culinary treasure back with me when I travel and a recipe or cookbook seems to always be the pick. Interesting combination of flavors here. I bet it is delicious.

  3. Toni @Boulder Locavore says:

    The soup ingredients are delicious sounding Michele. Seems beautifully spicy and I love the color. Hoping it keeps your travel adventures feeling close as long as possible!

  4. Barbara | Creative Culinary says:

    I’ve made more soups over the past couple of months; maybe it’s their ease of preparation that has me hooked but I’m also discovering new flavor combinations. This is an interesting one and I always love to know the history behind anything from another land. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

  5. Magic of Spice says:

    What an absolutely delightful soup…fantastic flavors!

  6. Debs @ The Spanish Wok says:

    Oh yum, I’d love to try this soup recipe.

    You are welcome to join in my food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here all bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  7. Simply Tia says:

    So did you travel to my home country (St Vincent and the Grenadines too)? Must have been a lovely trip! St Lucia is our neighbor to the north and Grenada is our neighbor to the south!

    I loveeeee callaloo soup but spinach and callaloo have nothing in common except their color (in my opinion). To me they taste completely different. Growing up we used dasheen bush for callaloo soup but I suppose different places use different things like you said and call it “callaloo”.

    Your soup look wonderful and delicious!!

    • Michele says:

      Yes Tia, we went all through the islands, stopping at St. Vincent and many of the small islands south of there – lovely place! I do know that callaloo and spinach aren’t the same thing, but upon alot of research decided that was the next best available thing to use – and it did seem that many cultures called soup callaloo using things like amaranth, taro, or xanthosoma – and that indeed they called it callaloo, coco, tannia, bhaaji, or dasheen bush. Having had the soup several places on the islands I must say that my version with spinach does taste very much the same as what we were served!

  8. glostagal says:

    Tia, I recall Callaloo being made with kale. Enjoyed it often in Bequia and St Vincent. Have not been able to get back there for years.

  9. Susan says:

    I am going to try this soup, I am a sailor also and have thought of taking this trip, would love to hear more details about the trip. Ports, anchorages, restaurants, etc. recommended charter company. Thanks, Susan s/v Better Together

  10. Lindsay F says:

    I put too much coconut in, since I accidentally added cream of coconut rather than coconut milk! Anyone have a good idea of how to kill the overly sweet taste??

  11. Susan says:

    I discovered this soup also while sailing in the Windward Islands. We got off the boat yesterday and I can hardly wait to get home to try this recipe.

  12. Patty says:

    Excellent recipe for a wild food forager! I made the soup with Amaranth Greens & Imitation Crab Meat. I omitted the coconut milk as I had none. I also reduced the recipe to make for 2 servings. Result, Fantastic!…I did have to pass it through a sieve after blending. My frozen okra, while tasty, was too mature and left tough-ish strings after blending. Next time I’ll blend the cut okra, sieve it if necessary, and then add to the saucepan before simmering.

  13. Thorn says:

    Great recipe! I first tasted Calaloo soup in Ocho Rios in 1960. There, the soup was not puréed, but used chopped collard-like greens with scotch bonnets and lobster chunks. In Miami, I use fresh collards, kale and okra, substituting hamhocks, stone crab meat, shrimp or lobster depending on the season, with a dollop of Pickapeppa & grated ginger.

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