14th Day of Christmas – Gungo Peas & Christmas

Photo: JIS Photographer

For many Jamaicans, gungo peas are an essential part of the Christmas Day menu. Gungo peas are the desired peas for the traditional rice and peas or as a part of the Gungo Peas Soup, the latter is a favourite appetizer before the main Christmas dinner.  More often than not, it is eaten as a meal by itself.

Here is the recipe for Gungo Peas Soup, taken from the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) publication, ‘Our Culinary Heritage’.

Gungo Peas Soup


  • 1/2 1lb Salted pig’s tail or 2 small smoked ham hocks
  • 1/4 lb Salted beef
  • 1/4 lb Stewing beef
  • 4 Quarts water or chicken stock
  • 2 Cups Uncooked green or

1 Cup dried gungo peas or

2 (16 ounce) cans, drained

  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 1 Stalk escallion chopped
  • 1 Sprig dried thyme
  • 4 Potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • Salt
  • 6 Dried pimento berries


  • Soak the salted meat in water (to cover) for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  • Drain, add fresh water, bring to a boil then drain again.
  • Combine all the meats and dried peas in 4 quarts fresh water or chicken stock, cover and bring to a boil.
  • Add the green peas (not canned) after boiling begins.
  • Reduce the heat and cook covered for 1 hour.
  • Add the canned peas (if used) and the onion, escallion, thyme and potatoes
  • Add salt to taste
  • Add Pimento berries and any other vegetable (carrots, etc.) or starch (yams, dumplings, etc.) if you like
  • Simmer for 1 hour
  • Serve hot

Serves 6-8.

Note: Dried peas should not be soaked in cold water as they will take much longer to cook.  

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