25 Days of Christmas

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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