What is mannish water anyway? Well it’s soup! It could be dubbed the official party soup of Jamaica as it is usually made for large gatherings and parties. You can find this at weddings, funerals, big birthday parties and definitely around Christmas and New Years. The soup is made from goat’s head, feet and entrails. Though that might seem odd, it’s not uncommon that Jamaiacans are big meat eaters who eat all parts of the animal. A male goat is used for the soup on purpose because goat meat from a mature male goat tends to have a more gamey taste which is unique to this soup.
For this particular recipe, I used a goat’s head that was burnt to remove short hairs, cleaned and chopped into chunks. This is usually available at West Indian markets or butcher shops. The goat’s eyes, brain, teeth and tongue are generally removed and discarded from the head before it is sold. It’s no surprise that the meat is very boney and does not have much “meat”. The meat in this dish is mostly cartilage in parts like the ears and gelatinous skin. The use of animal skin in soup is common in Jamaica so this soup is something our palette recognizes. You may or may not need to scrape the skin a bit before washing the meat to remove burnt skin or small hairs.
Unlike traditional Jamaican pumpkin soup, this soup is cooked with or without pumpkin. Leaving out the pumpkin is normal as this is not a soup that needs the thickness and color from the addition of pumpkin. If you do use pumpkin, use about half the amount you would use in a traditional pumpkin soup. Other vegetables included are chayote, carrots, green bananas, potatoes, okra, dasheen and coco. The veggies help to make the soup hearty and healthy.
Spicing and Flavoring
Mannish water is big on spicy heat! There are some recipes that add so much heat that the soup could actually be intolerable. I added a whole scotch bonnet pepper to the soup that I made a few slits in to get the heat from the center and the seeds. If you can’t tolerate the heat, leave the pepper completely whole when cooking this soup. Fresh scallions, all spice, onion, thyme and garlic also help to give this soup intense and great flavor.
Using a pressure cooker
I used a pressure cooker for the first half of this cook. Because the meat on the head of the goat is so tough, it would take a really long time to cook it without a pressure cooker but that is also possible to do if you have the time. The pressure cooker took roughly thirty minutes to do a job that would have likely taken about 2 hours to do.
For this recipe you will need:
- Pressure cooker pot
- Large soup pot
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- 3 lbs of goats head, cleaned and chopped
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 cup of a Kabocha squash, large dice
- 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 chayote, peeled and cubed
- 2 coco, peeled and cubed
- 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1.5 cups of AP flour
- 4 green bananas, peeled and diced
- 15 okra, diced
- 1 large onion, large dice
- 3 large scallions, mashed
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
- 15 pimento berries
- 2 veggie bouillon cubes
- 1 packet Grace chicken noodle soup mix
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Check the pieces of goat’s head to ensure burnt areas and small hairs are removed. If you scrape at these areas with the blade of a knife they will easily be removed. Rinse meat under cold running water and place in a pressure cooker. Cover the meat completely with water, about 2 inches above the meat. Add garlic cloves to the pot and cover. Place the pot on high heat and leave the pot on for 30 minutes. The actual pressure cook of the meat will only be about 15 minutes of that total time.
- Carefully open the pressure cooker pot ONLY after all of the steam has been carefully released and the pot has cooled. Check the meat to ensure it is tender. If the meat is not fork tender, return to the heat and pressure for 10 more minutes. Older goats tend to be harder to tenderize and so the cook time may vary.
- Transfer the cooked meat to a large soup pot and add about 6 + cups of water depending on how much soup you want to make. Water will evaporate as the soup cooks so always start with more than you think you need.
To the pot add the chopped squash, carrots, chayote, coco, green bananas, okra and large onion. Cook vegetables for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Note on okra: If you want the orak pieces to stay whole, put them in later. I wanted them to break apart in the soup so I added them at this point.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, it's time to make dumplings. Mix flour and about ½ cup of water to form a dough. Roll the dough into cylinders or rounds and add them to the pot.
Add in next all of the seasonings that will flavor the soup. Add in mashed scallions, scotch bonnet, pimento berries, bouillon cubes and noodle soup mix. At this point, add in the white potatoes as well as salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow the soup to cook until the seasonings fall apart and adequately flavor the soup, about 25-30 minutes. Stir constantly so the noodles do not attach to the bottom of the pot and burn.
- Serve soup hot and enjoy!