Extreme Foods Jamaican Recipe: Cow Skin Soup


Almost every Jamaican loves soup and almost every household makes it a weekly Saturday tradition. Our soups are hearty and filling, a one pot meal. The skin of the cow when slaughtered is not made into leather in Jamaica but also consumed for it's richness and nutrition. This part of the cow makes a wonderful stew or soup and is loved by many people. We call thin Jamaican Recipe, Cow Skin Soup.

This soup is said to put back strength in the person who consumes it. It is the men in the family you will find enjoys this more, even though it's one of my favorites.


How the cow/beef skin is prepared at the butchers

After removing the skin form the animal, the skin is then roasted slightly over a wood fire, in order to remove the hair/fur by scraping with a knife. The skin is scraped until all traces of animal hair has been removed, and the skin is now smooth and half roasted and has a smokey smell. The skin is burned. I am not sure of the exact method but I would suggest you not trying to skin a cow at home! You can however try making the cow skin soup!


My Saturday Dinner!

On Friday our friend the butcher sent my fiancé 2 1/4 lbs of cow skin and we were delighted. I immediately knew what I would do with it. Now, 2 1/4 lbs of cow skin is a lot for two people and can be made into two meals. So today I will share with you the soup recipe and next time I will make a stew and share with you.

Cow Skin Soup!

What you will need.......

1 - 1 1/4 lbs cow/beef skin cut in chunks

1 lb yellow yam cut into chunks

1/4 lb carrots sliced somewhat thickly

1/2 lb white potatoes quartered

1/2 large chayote cut into chunks (in Jamaica we call this chô-chô)

1 lb pumpkin cut into chunks

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour for dumplings

6 cloves garlic - smashed

2 stalks scallion

1 heaping teaspoon pimento seeds

1 green scotch bonnet pepper

1 large bunch fresh thyme

1 packet soup mix OR bouillon OR 1/2 teaspoon each cracked cumin and coriander seeds

salt to taste

Large pot



In a large stock or soup pot, add 6 - 8 cups water and set on medium high flames. Add washed pimento seeds and smashed garlic. Cut cow skin into desired size ( a double bite size is prefered, meaning you cut it once for 2 bite pieces). Wash thoroughly (I wash 3 times to get rid of any burned particles and extra smokiness). When water is boiling add to pot and cover. Let the meat cook until tender (about an hour). Add more water if needed.

Meanwhile, peel and cut pumpkin into chunks. When cow skin is tender but not soft, add pumpkin and let soup continue to cook until pumpkin is somewhat mashed and the cow skin is a little softer (about 45 minutes).

Peel yam and cut into chunks, peel and slice carrots, peel and cut chayote and potatoes and add them all to your pot. Cover and bring to a boil and let cook for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

In the meantime, makes dumplings by adding a pinch of salt to flour and pour water in small amounts to form a dough. Make dumplings and add to soup, the size of golf balls until all dough is used up. Cover and bring to a boil.

Note that water must be enough to cover vegetables with at least 1/2 inch to spare. So add more water if needed. If water seems too much, turn flames to high and bring to a boil, cook uncovered for 20 minutes.

Add your seasoning; scallion, thyme, pepper and packet soup mix OR bouillon OR cracked cumin and coriander seeds. Cover, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Let soup continue to cook, stirring constantly. Add salt to taste if needed.

Let soup simmer for another 30 minutes them turn flames off. You will know when soup is done when it has thickened and all the flavors have come together.

Serves 6 - 8 persons


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Comments 26 comments

Innuentendre profile image

Innuentendre 5 years ago from Houston, Texas


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks! I just had another bowl...lol

realhousewife 5 years ago

Sounds great! I don't know if I could get cow skin but I bet chicken skin might be a great alternative for flavor. I. Love soup and tis the season! Its 19* F here!!!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Kelly, how come you aren't signed in!

Chicken skin has too much fat and tastes funny. Smoked beef, smoked chicken or some other smoked meat would be great!

Josephine 5 years ago

Looks yummy!

Leaderofmany profile image

Leaderofmany 5 years ago from Back Home in Indiana

Maybe if I didn't know it was cow skin I could eat it. I think of the cow laid out across the bed of my Grandparents of their favorite dairy cow and it makes not want to try it. Very interesting and I learned something new today.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Josephine. Have a great Sunday!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Leaderofmany, I know having that memory would make it hard for you to eat anything from the cow. You could substitute with smoked chicken.

katrinasui profile image

katrinasui 5 years ago

Looks delicious:) Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Katrina, I hope you make it sometime, I am sure you will enjoy it!

Thanks for stopping by.

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I will have to try this. I love your new avatar.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, this is totally different and sounds delicious, it certainly looks good, I would give it a go if only they used this part of the meat over here, nice one!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey there Flora. You surprise me, I thought you would dislike this one because of the cow skin...lol

Thanks, this was the second Avatar I used after joining HP. I needed a change again.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Nell, try it with the crispy ham skin after Christmas or smoked chicken. It has a smokey flavor from the roasted skin, really delicious.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I could do this with chicken. I bet it would be good. Thank's Cardisa..

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Ruby, you could make it with regular chicken and for the smoky flavor you could use smoked chicken.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

This looks absolutely delicious. I also think I would have to use chicken. Thanks for the recipe.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Pamela, yes, smoked chicken gives it that similar smokey flavor.

Thanks for stopping by.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Finding the beef skin may be a task. But this soup sounds delicious.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

You could use smoked meat Susan, smoked chicken would be great!

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

Yellow yams and pumpkin in soup I don't think I have ever heard of but I just bet would be good.Give it just a bit of sweetness. I try many different things since being here and I think I have loved them all. Well don't think I can get the skin so will have to settle for just the beef. Thank you so much Cardisa!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Jackie, I knew the name was familiar...lol

Most Jamaican soups have both the pumpkin and yellow yams. The only soups we don't put the pumpkin in is peas soups. A smoked meat would work well to replace the cow skin.

Tia Adumike profile image

Tia Adumike 2 years ago from Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Hi Cardissa, how are you. I'm new to this site, in fact just came on today looking for a cow skin recipe, lol. I was delighted to find this one on here. My husband is Nigerian and people from West Africa in general eat cow skin a lot. I have tasted it and the way they make it to me is not very flavorful and its very tough. So I wanted to get a cow skin recipe that make the skin tender and flavorful that I can try to serve to my husband that we both would enjoy. Thank you so much! By the way I love Jamaican food, I have been eating it for about 25 years now.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 2 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Tia, thanks for stopping by my hub. I hope you like this recipe. At some point I'll share some other cow skin recipes on my blog whenever I make the dish. Please let me know how this one turns out.

Lilly 2 years ago

I like beef skin. where can I order it? Thanks!!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 2 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Lily, you can probably get it at your local butcher shop.

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