Today is the Bon Ane / New Year celebration in Haiti. That means another chance to enjoy soup joumou. Today is very important in the history of Haiti and soup joumou is one cultural expression of that celebration.
The short version –
Haiti declared it’s independence on January 1st, 1804. Soup Joumou was a recipe exclusively reserved for the French colonial masters. To celebrate their liberty, Haitians have made a tradition of enjoying this meal every January 1st.
The long version (Wikipedia) –
Soup joumou (French: soupe au giraumon) is a famous mildly spicy soup native to Haitian cuisine.
The soup is traditionally based on a large winter squash that resembles a pumpkin. The squash slices are simmered in a saucepan along with pieces of beef, potato, plantains and vegetables such as parsley, carrots, green cabbage, celery and onions. The pumpkin is then puréed, usually in a food processor, with water and the purée is returned to the saucepan, where salt and seasoning along with garlic and other herbs and spices are added. Thin pasta such as vermicelli and macaroni and a small amount of butter or oil is sometimes also put in. A small amount of lime is added before serving. The soup is always served hot and is usually accompanied with a sliced bread with which to dip in the soup.
Haitian tradition holds that the soup was enjoyed by the slave masters on the former French colony, while the Haitian slaves were forbid it. Consequently, Soup Joumou is traditionally consumed on New Year’s Day (January 1), as a historical tribute to Haitian independence in 1804.
The recipe for soup joumou –
In short, this is a beef stew with pumpkin (squash) broth. There are many versions of how it’s made, like any traditional food the way your grandmother made it was always the best. The ingredients can be simple or elaborate depending on your budget and cooking style. Like all stews it’s best to try new variations and find what suits you best – in other words you can’t do it wrong. Some key points:
- It needs to be spicy, make the peppers count
- Don’t skimp on the meat, throw in some chicken along with the beef
- Let it simmer all morning, at noon everyone will be ready
This is a matter I always leave to the ladies of our household, but here are some results online: