“L'union fait force”
-Unity makes strength.
Today in Haiti not only do we celebrate the new year, we also celebrate our independence. To celebrate we always make Soup Joumou (Pumpkin Soup). Prior to our independence it was forbidden for enslaved Africans to have the soup. It was considered a delicacy for the French slave owners. So, on January 1, 1804 to really celebrate our freedom, or express victory, the Emperor Jean Jacques Dessalines advised his wife to cook and offer this soup to the former slaves in order to honor their new found independence.
I cannot remember a New Year’s Day without Soup Joumou, as a child. Even if for some odd reason it was not made at our home someone who knew us would make sure we had soup to start the year-it was almost mandatory. Traditionally, the soup is made with beef. Over the years, my family has made vegan versions for me, so I have to admit I am bit spoiled. Until today, I never made soup joumou. It was one of the few dishes I did not have to learn. Maybe because it was made once a year and if my mom did not make it, my grandmother or aunts would. Last year, I decided I want to make the soup. I began to review different recipes in addition to recalling how my family prepared the dish. The recipe below was created from my research and recollection. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did–I am three bowls in.
Happy New Year and Independence Day!
Soup Joumou (Haitian Pumpkin Soup)
Ingredients for Squash Puree
(This dish being called pumpkin soup is sort of misleading. Traditionally we use squash to make this dish, specifically calabaza. Calabaza is “a large winter squash that resembles a pumpkin and is typically grown in the West Indies and tropical America.”)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ of Calabaza (substitute with 1 butternut squash), peeled and chopped into chunks
3 cups vegetable broth
Remaining Soup Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped fine
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 leek, sliced in half and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 potatoes, peeled and diced in 1-inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
1-2 malanga, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup parsley,
½ head of green cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
6-8 cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 scotch bonnet(optional)
4 sprigs of thyme
5 ounces of variety of noodles, broken in halves or thirds
½ tbs of ground cloves
freshly ground pepper
juice of 1 lime (optional)
In a saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and sauté onions and garlic. Add butternut squash, and broth . Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer until squash is tender. About 10 minutes. Cool and purée squash in blender until smooth. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat oil under medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add leeks, potatoes, carrots, celery, malanga, turnip, scallions, parsley. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and stir. Add cabbage, vegetable bouillon, 6-7 cups water, scotch bonnet, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Add squash purée and noodles. Add more water if needed. Cook, stirring occasionally until soup thickens slightly, approximately 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.