Haitian Soup Joumou – Savored with pride by Haitians, soup joumou is a filling soup with dynamic and expressive flavors made with love, patience, and joy.
My version of soup joumou is about a year in the making. It’s not a complicated dish, but most recipes call for a loooooong list of different ingredients which makes it hard to give all the different flavors their just due. Given the significance of the dish to Haitians, I had to take my time and get it right or as they say in Haiti “tipa tipa,” i.e “small step, small step” which speaks to how great, big things come from patient but persistant progress.
What is Soup Joumou?
Soup Joumou is a delicious, aromatic, rich and hearty “pumpkin” soup. Most versions call for beef, cabbage, rigatoni, pumpkin, and a host of other vegetables. My research found that preferences varied from person to person. Pumpkin could be replaced with butternut squash or even sweet potatoes. Turnips, malanga root and rutabagas all make appearances in a few different recipes. Some versions have a very thick consistency others are more soupy. What is consistent is the aroma from ingredients like cloves, fresh thyme, and scotch bonnet peppers.
What is the origin of Haitian Soup joumou?
Soup Joumou might as well be called “independence” soup given the history. Haiti is the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also the first black republic and the only nation in the world established as the result of a slave result. After years of enslavement ended by a 12-year-old fight for independence from the French, Haitians celebrate annually January 1 to commemorate the hard-earned victory. Haitian Independence Day is celebrated by many via meals including soup joumou which had long been the forbidden soup of its masters, now embraced by free independent Haitians and a symbol of their strength, resolve, and yes freedom. It is as much about looking to the future as it is about celebrating the past.
How To Make Soup Joumo?
My intent was to post this recipe just before New Year’s, but I just didn’t feel quite good about where the recipe was. It was good but not respectful enough of the history in my opinion. You can’t be half-steppin’ with this dish, after all, you’re representing a proud heritage and legacy of freedom. I took another month experimenting with different combinations of ingredients, tweaking the texture, as well as finessing the order of the vegetables added before getting to the point of sharing with you. I ain’t one to brag, but damn this version is da shiznit! It smells great, looks good, and tastes great. Best of all, after you eat a bowl or two, you feel like you ate a big ass bowl of Vibranium in the presence of hateful colonizers.
Haitian love is all up in this dish, but its the epis that gives it that umph! Epis is a Haitian marinade made from a blend of herbs, spices, and veggies. It’s like a Haitian sofrito that is used in many different recipes. I used it both as a marinade for the beef, but also to add a little bottom to the soup.
Haitian Soup Cooking Tips
- Marinate the beef in Haitian epis marinade.
- Cut small slits into the scotch bonnets to leverage their fragrance while keeping that crazy heat level in check.
- Puree the squash and carrots for optimal consistency, color, and balanced flavor
- Use local, fresh ingredients. If you don’t have pumpkin around, forget using the canned stuff and just use your favorite winter squash that’s available.
- For thinner consistency add vegetable stock or water
- Add a dose of lime juice just before serving.
- Keep your favorite bread on hand for steady soppin’
- For a vegan version just eliminate the beef and pasta. There are more than enough vegetables present for this dish to remain filling.
- Don’t forget about the scotch bonnet simmering in your pot. You leave it simmering too long, it will break down, releasing those fiery seeds into your soup.
- With the mixture of herbs, peppers, meat, and multiple vegetables, you don’t have to get crazy with the spices. Spices will play the role of unifying the variety of flavors.
making this Haitian soup recipe
If you make this soup, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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Haitian Soup Joumou
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 3 scallions
- 6-7 sprigs thyme leaves only
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper seeded and de-veined
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 1 stalk celery
- 1½ pounds beef chuck cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 cup leeks (whites only) finely chopped
- 1 large scallion diced
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 celery stalk finely chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme washed and tied with twine
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley washed and tied with twine
- 3 cups butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium carrots cut into small pieces
- 5 cups low-sodium beef broth vegetable or chicken stock can be substituted
- 1 Scotch bonnet pepper whole with small slits along each side
- 1/2 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 small malanga root peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 small green cabbage thinly sliced
- 1 cup rigatoni pasta
- 1 medium lime juiced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Make the epis by pureeing all the ingredients until smooth
- Wash beef with water and then rub with lime juice and set aside in a large bowl.
Add 1/2 cup of epis to the bowl and marinate the meat in the refrigerator and overnight or for at least 1 hour.
- Remove meat from refrigerator and let come to room temperature
- In a large pot, heat oil on high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the meat and brown thoroughly on all sides, approximately 5–10 minutes.
- Remove the meat from the pot, and set aside. Leave the oil in the pot.
- Add the onions, leeks and scallions to the pot. Cook on medium high heat 5-10 minutes until they are translucent reaching a golden brown.
- Add the garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, celery, and half the spices and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute more.
- Add the thyme, squash, carrots and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook until squash and carrots are fork tender around 30-40 minutes
- Turn off the heat, remove the thyme and pepper, and puree the soup using a hand mixer until it is a smooth texture. If you prefer a thinner consistency add more broth or water. If you don’t have a hand mixer use a blender or food processor.
Add the thyme back to the soup and add the beef, bay leaves, parsley, and remaining spices.
- Bring the soup to a simmer on medium-low heat covered and cook for an additional 45 minutes
- Add the pasta, potatoes and malanga root and continue to simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and malanga are cooked through.
- Add cabbage and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the herbs and discard. Add seasoning as needed and serve with fresh lime juice and chopped parsley.
Turnips, rutabagas are good substitutes for malanga root.
I used butternut squash in place of pumpkin as I didn't find pumpkin to my liking.
Feel free to add another 1/2 cup of the epis to the soup right after pureeing.