Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6 to 8
Spinners (small, elongated dumplings) swimming in the nourishing orange broth make this simple soup a treasure trove. Yellow or white yams can be used instead of or in addition to spinners. Unfortunately, many Jamaicans now opt for packaged seasoning over bones and the slow-simmering soup pot. What a shame! Serve as a light meal or a dinner starter.



  • 1/2 pound pig’s tail, salted (optional)
  • 3 pounds beef with bone, such as short ribs or shin
  • 2 pounds pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 whole scallions, crushed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound yellow or white yam, peeled and chopped (optional)



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. If you are using pig’s tail, soak it in two 10-minute water baths and rinse. Place it in a large soup pot along with the beef, pumpkin and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the pumpkin has dissolved and the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, to prepare the spinners, in a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour and salt. And the water and blend with a wooden spoon until a ball is formed. Flour your hands and knead slightly to form a soft dough. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Cover and set aside.
  3. When the meat is tender, remove it from the pot. Separate the meat from the bones, chop it, and return it to the pot. Bring to a brisk simmer over medium heat and add the scallions, garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, salt (if not using pig’s tail), and black pepper. If using, place the yam in the pot.
  4. Bring to a simmer again. Form the spinners by rolling small pieces of dough between your floured palms to form 1-inch-long oblong shapes. Drop the spinners into the soup one at a time. Stir gently to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. Continue to cook the soup for 15 minutes. Remove the whole Scotch bonnet pepper before serving.
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