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Recipe: Ring in the New Year Haitian-Style, With Soup Joumou

It doesn’t matter where in the world a Haitian might be on January 1, rest assured they will be eating soup joumou-- the soup of freedom!
Soup Joumou

Brooklyn's very own chef Nadege Fleurimond, owner of the Haitian eatery Bannann Fri Mi Ak Vet, has provided us a savory way to ring in the new year! Soup Joumou is one of the greatest most enduring new year traditions of the Haitian culture.

Joumou is the Kreyòl word derived from giraumon in French, which means “pumpkin,” in English. The soup is eaten on January 1 to usher in good luck and protection for the new year. But there's another immediate benefit: It is absolutely delicious!!!

Enslaved Haitians were not allowed to have this aromatic pumpkin soup, a favorite of the French who held people in slavery. 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 what better way to celebrate than to eat the very thing they were unable to eat under slavery? Nowadays, it doesn’t matter where in the world a Haitian might be on January 1—they will be having soup joumou-- the soup of freedom!


Serves 10–12

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, divided

1 pound beef shank, meat cut off bones into 1" cubes

1 pound stew beef (preferably chuck) cut into 1" cubes

1 cup Epis Seasoning Base

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

15 cups beef or vegetable broth, divided

1 pound beef bones

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

3 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), finely chopped

3 carrots (about 1 pound), sliced

1/2 small green cabbage (about 1 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 chile

1 1/2 cups rigatoni

6 whole cloves

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more

Pinch of cayenne pepper, plus more

1 parsley sprig (optional)

1 thyme sprig (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Crusty bread (for serving)

Special Equipment

A very large stock pot (at least 10 quarts)

  1. Step 1Pour 1 cup vinegar into a large bowl. Swish beef shank and stew beef in vinegar to rinse. Transfer beef to a colander and rinse with water.Step 2Stir Epis Seasoning Base, lime juice, and seasoned salt in another large bowl. Add beef, toss to coat, and let marinate at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.Step 3Heat 5 cups broth in very large stock pot over medium. Add marinated beef and bones, cover, and simmer until meat is beginning to soften, about 40 minutes.Step 4Add squash to pot on top of beef, cover, and return to a simmer. Cook until squash is fork-tender, 20–25 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer squash to a blender. Add 4 cups broth and purée until smooth. Return to pot and bring to a simmer.Step 5Add potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onion, celery, leek, turnips, chile, rigatoni, cloves, garlic powder, onion powder, 2 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, a pinch of cayenne, parsley, if using, thyme, if using, and remaining 6 cups broth. Simmer, uncovered, until pasta and vegetables are tender, 30–35 minutes.Step 6Add oil, butter, and remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beef is very tender, 15–20 minutes more.Step 7Taste and adjust seasonings. Divide soup among bowls and serve with bread alongside.
  2. Do AheadStep 8Soup can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Cooks' Note: This soup feeds a large crowd. If you have a smaller crew or smaller pot, feel free to halve the ingredients. You might need to add extra liquid while cooking.

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