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Mannish Water Soup, An Aphrodiasic?

Though it seems simple enough, I’ve never made mannish water soup. I’ve never even tried to. Perhaps because it’s one of those Jamaican dishes that is best to cook outdoors over a wooden fire – sweat pouring down the face, arms and back, smoke stinging the eyes.

Or, perhaps as the name suggests, it should be prepared by men, which it is. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen a woman making mannish water soup. (Maybe with Jamaicans who live abroad, roles might have changed. Ditto the preparation. It’d be difficult to build a fire and cook outside.)

Considered an aphrodisiac, mannish water soup, is made from goat’s offal – the intestines, head, feet and testicles – which are scrupulously cleaned then washed (now, that I’ve seen women do), the head and feet roasted over an open fire then scraped to remove hair (I’ve seen boys no more than 10 do this part).

The meat is then cut into small pieces, mixed with green bananas, coco, yam, carrots, spinners (dumplings), seasoned with Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, etc., and left to reduce to a delicious soup.

Mannish water soup gets its distinct flavor from the bananas with a light smoky taste from the goat.

Mannish water soup is served hot as an appetizer, in paper cups at large gatherings, like the weddings, parties. For less casual dining, like the event I attended this week, it is served in soup plates. You can even add white rum to kick the flavor up.

Admittedly, mannish water soup isn’t for everyone so I was surprised to see a recipe on the Food Network, even more surprised that it suggested that lamb could be substituted. Wonder what the purists would think.

So is mannish water soup an aphrodiasic? Well…it probably depends on how much you end up drinking.

Mannish Water Soup

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  1. 4 lb. goat’s head, tripe and feet (get butcher to cut in small pieces)
  2. 12 green bananas
  3. 1 lb. flour for spinners
  4. 3-4 hot peppers
  5. 1 lb. coco
  6. ½ lb. carrots
  7. ½ lb turnips
  8. 3 chochos
  9. 3 gallons water
  10. ½ lb scallion
  11. 4 sprigs thyme
  12. 2 lb. yam
  13. Salt to taste
  1. Chop meat into small pieces (if not already chopped)
  2. Wash and place in a 5-gallon container with 3 gallons of hot water.
  3. When the water returns to a boil, simmer until meat is cooked soft (about 2 ½ -3 hours).
  4. Peel green bananas and add all other ingredients, except for flour, i.e. vegetables, seasonings etc. cook uncovered for one hour more.
  5. Use flour to make spinners. Add to stock.
  6. Correct seasoning and remove hot peppers. Add more water if necessary.
  7. Serve hot.
Adapted from The Real Taste of Jamaica
Adapted from The Real Taste of Jamaica

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