How to make Haitian Soup Joumou
Soup Joumou, the traditional Soup in Haitian Cuisine, is a one-pot meal full of vegetables, meat, and an incredible squash base broth. It is the perfect hearty dish for breakfast, brunch, and even lunch.
A few important points about this traditional Haitian Soup
New Year’s Day is approaching, and it is time again for one of the most popular traditions in the Haitian Culture, Soup Joumou, (Creole) Soupe de Giraumon, or Squash Soup. Traditionally served on New Year’s Day, Soup Joumou is made with squash called Calabaza, West Indian pumpkin, or Giraumon. Depending on where you live, the squash will have a different name.
The soup is prepared early in the day and is served all morning to family, friends, and visitors as they wish each other a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year. As of December 18, 2021, UNESCO has awarded Soup Joumou protected cultural heritage status.
Throughout the years, and because of the availability of other types of squash, it is not common for many to make the traditional soup with butternut squash, which is one of my favorite squash to use. Although it is not the regular squash, the concept of New Year’s Day soup is still the same.
Soup Joumou or Soupe de Giraumon is made primarily with beef, carrots, cabbage, turnips, parsnips, macaroni, and spices and the main ingredient being calabaza squash. The soup is also served on Sunday morning at breakfast time with bread.
The ingredients to make the soup
- Calabaza pumpkin or butternut squash: the soup is normally prepared with Calabaza squash/pumpkin. Butternut squash is a great and better option for this soup.
- Beef neck bones with a combination of beef stew meat or beef shanks, cut into cubes:
- Lime/lemon: used to clean and marinate the meat.
- Scallions: used to marinate the meat
- Garlic cloves: used to marinate the meat
- Hot pepper: Scotch bonnet pepper or habanero pepper whole not chopped: when whole, this pepper adds a subble peppery flavor. When sliced, it releases more spicy flavor to the meat or the dish. It is best to remove the seeds and the membrane as the dish will be spicier.
- Onions: used to marinate and to add flavor.
- Thyme: always use fresh thyme to flavor this soup and many other dishes.
- Parsley: fresh parsley is a great herb to spice up beef.
- Salt: for flavor and must be used in moderation.
- Ground black pepper: freshly ground pepper is more flavorful than storebought alrady ground black pepper. You can also buy a mixture of peppercorns to grind.
- Water: room temperature or hot water.
- Olive oil: for flavor and moisture
- Leek: a great ingredient for soup and stews. This ingredient is optional and perfect for this soup.
- Celery stalks, Carrots, Parsnip and Turnips: stapple ingredients and should be part of the soup.
- Potatoes: another staple ingredient that help the soup retain a smooth texture.
- Cabbage leaves: another great vegetable for a healthy option.
- Whole cloves: add whole cloves or powdered cloves.
- Pasta noodle or spaghetti: essential for this soup. Another staple ingredient for the Haitian Soup Joumou.
- Butter: for additional flavor but not necessary
Beef or Chicken, great options
There are many versions of Soup Joumou or Soupe de Giraumon. This soup’s primary and most crucial step is cooking the beef or poultry before cooking any other ingredients. The meat or poultry must be well spiced and marinated. Many people often marinate their meat or poultry the day before for flavor enhancement.
Calabaza, Giraumon, or West Indian squash does not have a smooth and silky texture similar to butternut squash. Both squash types are very similar in taste, but the texture is different.
Although I grew up eating the traditional pumpkin, I enjoy cooking with butternut squash because it is primarily available in many US markets. Try this soup with both Butternut squash and Calabaza pumpkin and taste the difference. This is an excellent healthy soup to start your Sunday mornings or New Year’s Day.
Notes and Tips for soup joumou
- Use Calabaza squash only or a mixture of both butternut and calabaza squash.
- If you use frozen squash puree, the result and taste will not be the same.
- If it is too difficult to remove the snake from the squash, cut squash in large chunks and cook with the skin on. When cooked, let cool completely, remove the skin and add to a blender with the cooking liquid and puree to a smooth mixture.
- Meat: poultry, beef or pork
- Seafood: yes but shrimp, lobster, and real crabmeat are preferred. Cook the seafood separately and add in the last 5- 7 minutes of cooking.
- Season the vegetables after each addition.
- Add more water to thin out the squash puree if necessary. Only use boiling water and never cold water.
- Spices and Seasonings options: turmeric, Mrs. Dash, Noubess Hot and Spicy Sauces, Noubess Seasonings, Italian Seasoning mixture.
- Maggi cubed or chicken bouillon: yes, you can use them if preferred.
- Never add adobo or cajun seasoning. The taste will change completely.
- Vegetables: corn, spinach, or arugula.
- Kale, cauliflower, mushrooms, and broccoli must be sauteed separately and added in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- To make a meatless soup, cook the squash separately and the vegetables separately. Puree the squash, season perfectly and add the vegetables.
- Always season to taste your food and enjoy.
Other soup recipes you may enjoy
- BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH CORNISH HENS AND VEGGIES
- HOW TO MAKE SOUPE Z’HABITANTS
- SOUP JOUMOU OR CALABAZA SQUASH SOUP WITH BEEF SEASONED WITH NOUBESS HOT AND SPICY SAUCE AND SEASONING.
Soup Joumou (Soupe de Giraumon or Pumpkin Soup)
- 3 pounds calabaza pumpkin or butternut squash, skin removed and cut into large chunks
- 4 cups water room temperature, more or less if necessary
- 2 pounds beef neck bones or beef shanks, cut into cubes
- 1 lime/lemon cut in half and juiced reserve liquid (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 – 4 scallions finley chopped
- 6 – 8 Garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 small scotch bonnet pepper or habanero pepper whole not chopped
- 2 onions sliced
- 2 – 3 sprigs thyme
- 2 – 3 sprigs parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 leek sliced thinly, and optional
- 2 celery stalks cut in ½ inch pieces
- 2 medium carrots peeled and sliced
- 2 medium parsnips peeled and sliced,
- 2 turnips peeled and quartered
- 2 large potatoes peeled and cut in 4 to 6 pieces
- 3 cabbage leaves chopped or sliced
- 3 whole cloves
- ½ cup pasta noodle or spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large tomato cubed, and optional
- Cut and clean meat with additional lime/lemon or vinegar. Rinse with cold water, pat dry, and add to pot. In the same pot, add reserved lime/lemon juice, scallions, whole hot pepper, 4 of the garlic cloves garlic, 1 of the onions, thyme, parsley, black pepper and salt. Mix all ingredients together. Place in a covered bowl and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour or overnight for flavor enhancement.
- On medium high heat, bring meat to a boil. Add water when marinade has almost evaporated and let slowly cook. Check meat occasionally and add more water when necessary and until meat is fully cooked. (More water is only necessary depending on the cut and size of meat; be careful with the whole pepper so it does not burst). When cooked, remove pot of meat from heat and set aside.
- In a large stockpot, add squash and cover with water and let cook until softened over medium high heat on stove. Make sure the pot is covered for faster cooking. Once the squash pieces are cooked, let cool for 10 minutes and purée with hand blender or regular blender and set aside. You may have to strain the mixture for a smoother soup (but not necessary). Mixture can stay in stockpot for easy use later on.
- In a large stockpot, add oil, leek, onion, and celery stalks and let cook for 5 minutes while stirring. Add parsnips, turnips, carrots, cabbage, and cloves. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Add pumpkin puree and bring to a boil. Add more water if necessary to thin out the mixture.
- Add the pasta and potatoes and continue to boil for another 20 to 30 minutes until all ingredients are cooked.
- Add cooked meat with strained or untrained cooking liquid in the last 10 minutes of cooking with butter; add additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot with bread if preferred.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.
Nutrition info is automatically generated and provided as a courtesy and as an estimate only.
Originally published December 29, 2014. Updated December 26, 2021, to add additional content and photos.
I tried this recipe today using the fresh Calabaza, malanga, yam, potatoes, turnips, carrots, macaroni noodles, cabbage, a little spinach and a little mushroom. I used beef but added some chicken as well. It came out so great. Seasonings were right on the money. This was my first time with the fresh squash (had used frozen butternut in the past) and you are right, the taste is not the same! I will never use butternut squash for this recipe again. Thank you so much for a great start to the new year!
Thank you. Have a safe and healthy new year.
The main significance is that the soup was a dish of the slave owners and aristocracy. So when the Haitians won their freedom in the slave rebellion, the first thing they did as free individuals was eat what was forbidden to them.
Thank you Joseph for adding more information to our recipe post.
Flavorful and appetizing!
I’ve heard so many positive things about this soup and I cannot wait to try your version. Thanks for sharing and have a great independence day when it comes.
Thanks Charlene. Happy New Year!