Haitian soup joumou controversy
In this video, Nadege Fleurimond walks through the recipe and steps for preparig soup joumou. File Video.

By Sam Bojarski

No dish says independence, liberation and freedom quite like soup joumou. Sipping the hearty soup, traditionally made with squash, beef and vegetables is an indispensable New Year’s Day tradition. 

Made from ingredients native to Haiti, the soup predates the founding of the Republic. Haitians proudly drank their Independence Soup, formerly reserved for French palettes only, to celebrate the birth of their new nation, in 1804. 

Given its historical significance, any recipe bearing the soup joumou name should hold true to the earthen flavorings of the original dish. That’s why Haitian-Americans criticized the Bon Appetit recipe for a pumpkin soup with spiced nuts, which was originally titled “Soup Joumou.” 

In a few weeks, it will be time to get those soup joumou ingredients together. Here’s an original Haitian recipe you can try: 


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

½ 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 ½ cups rigatoni 

6 whole cloves 

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more

½ 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)


Pour 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. 

Stir 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

Heat 5 cups broth in very large stock pot over medium heat. Add marinated beef and bones, cover, and simmer until meat is beginning to soften, about 40 minutes

Add 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 puree until smooth. Return to pot and bring to a simmer. 

Add potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onion, celery, leek, turnips, chile, rigatoni, cloves, garlic powder, onion powder, 2 ½ tsp salt, ½ 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.

Add oil, butter, and remaining 1 tbsp. vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beef is very tender, 15-20 minutes more. 

Taste and adjust seasonings. Divide soup among bowls and serve with bread alongside. Voila! 

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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