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Caribbean Callaloo with Fresh Greens and Ham Recipe

Contributors: Roberta Duyff, MS, RD, FAND

Published: March 9, 2014

Caribbean Callaloo
Rebecca Clyde, MS, RDN, CD

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
½ jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
½ pound extra-lean ham or smoked turkey, diced
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Before you begin: Wash your hands.

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

Cooking Notes

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

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1½ cups
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.

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