Cooking with Concern: Haitian Soup Joumou

December 6, 2021
Written by Nadege Fleurimond

“Soup joumou to Haitians is more than soup, it is the representation of the humanity for enslaved Black people, and a symbol of freedom.”

This year the Concern Global Gala: Unite to Fight Hunger is all about the power of food. That’s why we’ve partnered with some amazing chefs to stand united to fight global hunger. As a special treat, we will be sharing a few recipes from the Concern Global Gala that celebrate the human spirit and the power of food in the countries we operate. 

Nadege Fleurimond (Photo: Instagram)

Nadege Fleurimond signed the Chefs United Statement as a culinary entrepreneur and author of Haiti Uncovered: A Regional Adventure into the Art of Haitian Cuisine and Taste of Solitude: A Culinary Journal. She draws from her Haitian heritage to effortlessly fuse the traditional and the modern. As a passionate innovator who harnesses her skills, creative inspiration and love of food to serve communities through the realms of the culinary arts and entrepreneurship, she shares the history behind the following soup joumou recipe to try at home.   

Soup joumou to Haitians is more than soup, it is the representation of the humanity for enslaved Black people, and a symbol of freedom. Enslaved Haitians were not allowed to have this delicious and aromatic pumpkin soup, a favorite of the French colonial rulers. On Sunday, January 1, 1804, when the enslaved gained their freedom, they celebrated with music and food in the Place d’Armes, in the city of Gonaives. And the soup was served to all.  

Haitians around the world eat soup joumou as a symbol of freedom on January 1—and often refer to it as “Freedom Soup.”

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Haitian Soup Joumou  

Serving Size: 10-12

Soup Ingredients 

  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar, divided 
  • 1 whole lime cut in half  
  • 2 pounds of beef (mixture of chuck, beef stew, soup bones)  
  • 1 cup Epis  
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice  
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt 
  • 1 medium calabaza squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, cubed, or 2 pounds defrosted frozen cubed calabaza squash, or 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, cut into 2″ chunks 
  • 2 large Idaho potatoes cut into cubes  
  • 2 carrots (about 1 pound), sliced 
  • 1/4 small green cabbage (about 1/2 pound), very thinly sliced 
  • 1 medium onion, sliced 
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped 
  • 2 small turnips, finely chopped 
  • 1 green Scotch bonnet or habanero 
  • 1 cup of rigatoni 
  • 6 whole cloves 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 parsley sprig 
  • 1 thyme sprig  
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
  • Water 

Epis seasoning ingredients  

  • 1/4 medium onion 
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped 
  • 10 scallions, chopped 
  • 12 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped 
  • 2 sprigs of thyme (just the leaves)  
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil  

Cooking Instructions  

Start with the Haitian epis seasoning and place all ingredients in a blender/food processor and blend. 

Pour 1 cup vinegar into a large bowl. Swish beef in vinegar. Squeeze lime halves and clean meat the Caribbean way by rubbing the meat with the inside of the lime pieces. Rinse with cold water, strain and set meat aside in large soup pot.  

Add oil, 1/2 cup of epis seasoning, 2 tablespoon lime juice, and seasoned salt to pot with meat. Toss to coat, and let marinade at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight. 

After marinading, bring meat pot to medium heat and add in 2 cups of water. Cover and let simmer for 40 minutes continuously adding water until meat is soft.  

In a separate pot add squash and with 4 cups of water. Cook on medium heat until squash is fork tender, about 25 minutes.  

Once cooked, purée squash in a blender or food processor. Add to pot of cooked meat.  

Still on medium heat, add additional 5 cups of water to pot with soup. Add potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onion, celery, leek, turnips, cloves, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, a pinch of cayenne, parsley and thyme. Ensure liquid is at least 2 Inches above veggies and meat.  

Add water as necessary.  

Simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are tender about 25-30 minutes.   

Add in Rigatoni, butter and remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice, simmer on low until pasta is cooked, about 10-12 minutes. 

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. 

The missing ingredient

Despite a vibrant, flavorful culinary heritage, Haiti remains one of the top ten hungriest countries in the world. With 2.6 million Haitians in need of humanitarian assistance and 46% of the population food insecure, Concern needs your support to deliver life-saving programs to the most vulnerable people in the hardest-to-reach places facing hunger.