Sometimes the truest statements are the boldest ones: This is the best soup I have ever tasted. Seriously. How could it not be, when it combines some of the most delicious cooking ingredients ever—potent leafy greens, creamy coconut milk, fruity and ﬁery habanero pepper, and palate-warming allspice—all in one pot?
If you’ve ever traveled through the Caribbean, then chances are that you’ve tasted callaloo. Callaloo is a popular Caribbean soup, created by enslaved Africans using African heritage and wisdom and indigenous plants. The main ingredient is the green leafy tops of either the amaranth plant (called callaloo or bhaji) or taro root (sometimes called dasheen). Outside of the Caribbean, spinach and other delicate greens are used.
Throughout the Caribbean there are many variations of callaloo soup, which may include crab and other seafood, meats, diﬀerent chili peppers, and other seasonings. Callaloo is the National Dish of Trinidad and Tobago, but it is prepared all over the Caribbean, from Jamaica to the Virgin Islands. You may ﬁnd it paired with rice, macaroni, roasted breadfruit, boiled green bananas, or cornmeal dumplings, depending on what country you’re in.
I used easy-to-ﬁnd ingredients—fresh spinach leaves in place of callaloo, and habanero peppers in place of scotch bonnet peppers. The result was a quick and easy, soft and buttery soup packed with so much ﬂavor, color, and nutrition! The heat from the peppers is perfect, coming on slowly and evenly with every bite. And, like with a green smoothie, blending greens into a puree increases nutrition by breaking down the ﬁbers for us (almost like pre-chewing), and making their nutrients even more bioavailable.
We enjoyed ours with a slice of sourdough bread for dipping. Cornbread next time!
We’ll be enjoying this surprising, kicking little soup throughout the coming cold months. We hope you will too.
Oldways Callaloo Soup
This Caribbean soup combines buttery soft greens with a peppery heat perfect for autumn.
*Note: Habanero and Scotch Bonnet peppers pack a ton of heat. Leave your peppers whole, sliced just in half, to lend their heat to the pot. Remove the peppers once the soup is ready to be served.
2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil (I used a vegan coconut butter for mine)
4 shallots, ﬁnely diced
2 large carrots, quartered and ﬁnely diced
1 tablespoon ground allspice
2 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers, sliced in half and deseeded
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch or 16oz box of spinach (or callaloo if you can ﬁnd it)
½ cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons sea salt
Heat the butter or coconut oil on medium-low heat in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the shallots, carrots, peppers, and slowly sauté for a good 5 minutes, covered, cooking until the carrots are soft and the aromas are full-blast.
Pour 2 cups of vegetable broth into your blender. Add two handfuls of greens and blend, until totally pureed. Keep adding greens, adding as much broth as needed each time, until you’ve blended your bunch.
Add the pureed greens and the rest of your vegetable broth to the pot. Add the coconut milk and sea salt. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve in a cup or bowl as a starter, side or main dish. Delicious with a slice of bread for dipping.