Joumou soup, or “Soupe Joumou” is a traditional pumpkin soup from Haiti. Besides fresh pumpkin, the soup also contains meat, citrus juice, vegetables and hot peppers.
The pumpkin is cooked until it becomes tender then it is pureed. The meat which has been cleaned and marinated is cooked in a separate pot in which the vegetables and pureed pumpkins are added along with water and spices to complete cooking.
The idea of “washing” meat might be confusing since it is discouraged in developed countries. However, in Caribbean islands like Haiti, it is customary to wash meat before cooking by rinsing it under running water. The meat is then rubbed with halved lemons or limes or soaked for a short period in a bowl of water, citrus juice or vinegar for a few minutes. At this time unwanted excess skin and fat is trimmed off the meat.
The meat is usually marinated in epis. Epis is a Haitian sauce made by pureeing fresh herbs. It is used as a marinade and to season many Haitian dishes.
Joumou means pumpkin in Haitian Creole. While pumpkin is required to make Joumou soup, different meats can be used like chicken and turkey. It is not uncommon for pasta to be added to the soup. Joumou soup is sometimes served with pikliz, a Haitian condiment made from pickled vegetables.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Soupe Joumou is also called Independence soup and it is the most significant meal in Haitian cuisine. As well as being a household staple it is prepared on the first day of January to celebrate the Haitian Independence Day.
Legend says that during the time of slavery, slave masters would eat Joumou soup on Sundays which the slaves were not privileged to. After slavery was abolished, eating Soupe Joumou became a symbol of freedom.
Haitian Joumou Soup Recipe
- Beef Stew Meat – 1 lb
- Water – 10 cups
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper – 1
- Pumpkin - 2 lbs
- Carrots, peeled - 2
- Celery Stalks – 2
- Parsley Sprigs - 5
- Onions, diced – 1 cup
- Turnips, diced - 2
- Potatoes, diced - 2
- Cabbage, chopped finely – 1 lb
- Limes - 2
- Tomato Paste – 2 tbsp
- Tomato Sauce – 1 cup
- In a medium pot, cook the pumpkin over medium heat in 6 cups of water for 30 minutes.
- While pumpkin is cooking, clean the meat with lime, rinse with hot water and drain.
- Marinate meat with a meat rub or epis. (For an enhanced flavor, you can marinate the meat from 1 hour up to one day in advance .)
- Puree the pumpkin with the water it was cooked in and set aside.
- In a stockpot, add the meat with the oil and tomato paste and brown it by adding small amounts of water to caramelize the meat.
- Cook covered over medium heat for 20 minutes.
- Add 3 cups of water and the pureed pumpkin and bring to a boil.
- Add the cabbage, carrots, celery, onion, turnips, tomato sauce, potato and parsley to the soup.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour with a whole scotch bonnet on top. (The whole scotch bonnet is for flavoring not to make the soup spicy. Remember to find and remove the pepper as you stir the soup and remove it before it bursts open)
- Taste and add a minimal amount of salt, black pepper or hot pepper to taste.
- Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let sit until ready to serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 228Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 230mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 6gSugar: 9gProtein: 23g