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Caribbean Callaloo with Fresh Greens and Ham

Caribbean Callaloo KaleRecipe by Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, FAND, CFCS

Named for its key ingredient — native callaloo leaves — hearty callaloo is a distinctly Caribbean dish, with differing versions from Jamaica to Trinidad. Since callaloo greens aren't widely available in the United States, this thick, nourishing soup, with a flavor akin to Southern greens, can be prepared with kale or spinach instead. In the islands, callaloo is typically served over cooked rice (try brown rice), making it a great one-pot meal, perhaps served with cooked plantains.


2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh kale or spinach, stems removed, chopped
1 cup trimmed, sliced okra (fresh or frozen)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced *
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 pound extra lean ham or smoked turkey, diced
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
Freshly-ground pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
  2. Remove from heat. Add the kale or spinach, then the okra, sweet potato, and jalapeño pepper.
  3. Pour the broth over the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Stir in the ham, lime juice, and thyme. Continue cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is heated through.  Season with pepper.

Preparation Note

  • To make callaloo less spicy hot, use less jalapeño pepper.
  • Note:  In Trinidad and Tobago, ½ cup coconut milk may be added as another cooking liquid. Since coconut milk is high in saturated fat, it is not used in this recipe.

Nutrition Information

Serves 8.

Calories: 130; Calories from fat: 45; Total fat: 5g; Saturated fat: 1g; Trans fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 10mg; Sodium: 470mg; Total carbohydrate: 14g; Dietary fiber: 3g; Sugars: 3g; Protein: 9g