Chicken souse is a broth consisting of chicken, vinegar, potatoes, vegetables and seasonings such as bay leaves and all spice, popular in The Bahamas.
The most important step for making a traditional souse is boiling the chicken at least twice. This is because the first boil extracts fat from the chicken which can be seen as an oily residue and scummy layer at the top of the water. The water is discarded and the chicken is added back to the pot with fresh water where is is cooked with the rest of the ingredients.
Another reason why the chicken is boiled twice is because souse is a clear broth. Getting rid of the water from the first boil reduces cloudiness and the broth appears clear. The vegetables and spices used do not typically contain colors that run off into the water.
Souse is an English word meaning to immerse in liquid or pour water over something, completely wetting it, making the name fit for the dish. Souse is also made using meats other than chicken. In other parts of the Caribbean, pork souse is very popular.
Bahamian souse is often served sprinkled with lime juice and eaten with grits or johnny cakes. Bahamian Johnny cake isn’t cake but rather a dense bread.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Souse or the method of sousing is believed to have originated from Europe where vinegar was used to preserve meat. Souse is also prepared in the Southern states of America. Since Bahamian cuisine is influence by Southern American food but had also experienced European colonization, it’s unclear how exactly this dish became a Bahamian tradition.
- Chicken, pieces – 3 lb
- Potatoes - 2
- Onion - 1
- Celery stalks - 2
- Allspice, whole – 2 tbsp
- Lime – 1
- White vinegar (if no lime) - 2 tbsp
- Dried red pepper
- Add the chicken pieces to a large pot and just barely cover with water.
- Add salt and the dried peppers.
- Boil chicken until it is cooked, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them in medium sized cubes.
- Place them into a bowl filled with water until they are ready to be used.
- Slice the onion and cut the celery stalks into medium cubes.
- Remove the chicken from the heat.
- Throw away the broth and rinse the chicken thoroughly.
- Place the chicken into a large pot.
- Add the potatoes, onion, garlic, and whole allspice.
- Cover with water.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a boil.
- When the potatoes are almost done, add the celery.
- Remove from heat when the potatoes are tender.
- Squeeze one lime (or add the vinegar) over the soup
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 778Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 397mgSodium: 481mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 93g