In Melbourne we had dinner a few times at a Jamaican restaurant. One of the many dishes we enjoyed was ‘red peas and rice’, a traditional Jamaican dish of white rice and kidney beans cooked in coconut milk. This dish inspired this soup which was made extra flavoursome with homemade jerk spices. It’s also really easy to make your own spice mixes and substantially cheaper than buying them already mixed. This soup is a great winter staple and goes well with some fresh bread and vegetables and a dessert of pineapple soaked in rum.


  • Coconut or olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 tspn jerk spice
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 tbsp ginger, finely diced
  • 1/2 large red capsicum
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1/2 cup quinoa ( I also added 1/4 cup of pearl barley as it was going spare)
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 tin peas (or 1 cup fresh or frozen peas) 
  • 2 teaspoons jerk spice mix
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk



  1. Fry onions and garlic in oil until translucent
  2. Add spice mix, carrots and ginger and cook for 2 minutes
  3. Add capsicum, celery, quinoa, beans, peas, stock and coconut milk and simmer under the vegetables are tender and the barley is cooked (about 30 mins)


Jerk spice mix:

  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Toast the whole spices in a small pan until they are aromatic and have turned a shade or two darker. Don’t be tempted to skip this stage, as it really enhances the flavours.
  2. Crush with a mortar and pestle if you have one then store in a dry jar.