How to make pumpkin soup or soup joumou

As the days grow shorter and the leaves begin to change, I am once again ready for some fresh pumpkin soup.

Fall is upon us and with all the crisp, fall air and colorful leaves, we start to think about hearty soups and all the best vegetables fall has to offer. One comfort food I have been currently enamored with is pumpkin soup. And not just the run-of-the-mill, creamy pumpkin soup that reminds you mornings are getting cooler and the sun is setting earlier, but a truly hearty pumpkin soup that sticks to your ribs.

This quest for the perfect pumpkin soup started last year, although I have always liked squash and pumpkin soups. My two new kids (adopted last fall from Haiti) made sure I knew that “stuff” was not pumpkin soup. After visiting a pumpkin patch and taking home some pie pumpkins, I was on a mission to find a good Haitian recipe to enjoy a bit of Haitian culture.

Joumou (pronounced joo-moo) or Haitian pumpkin soup is the traditional New Year’s meal. It is not served because it’s Jan. 1, but rather Haiti’s Independence Day. On Jan. 1, 1804, Haiti’s fight for freedom was finally over after defeating France in the only successful slave revolution, resulting in an independent nation. Haiti, at that time called Saint Domingue, is the world’s first black republic.

What does that have to do with pumpkin soup? Everything! The French forbade all Haitians from drinking pumpkin soup. It was considered a delicacy far too sophisticated for the common slave. But on Jan. 1, 1804, it is recorded that a huge pot of pumpkin soup was served as a symbol of freedom. Therefore, all Haitians, no matter where they are in the world, drink pumpkin soup, or soup joumou, every Jan. 1.

As the days are again getting shorter and all the crisp, early apples are ready for sauce, I once again am ready for some fresh pumpkin soup. Why wait until Jan. 1 for something this tasty? Try out the following Haitian pumpkin-beef soup (soup joumou) recipe from Saveur this season.


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 scallions, sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • 1 scotch bonnet chile, stemmed and seeded
  • Juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound beef chuck, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small leek, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces; rinsed
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 small green cabbage, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 small kabocha squash, cut into 1-inch pieces


Puree garlic, scallions, parsley, thyme, shallots, chile, juice, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup water in a blender until smooth; mix with beef in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Remove beef from marinade and dry with paper towels; set aside. Heat oil in an 8-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook, turning as needed, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender, about 1.5 hours. Add carrots, celery, leeks, onion, potatoes, turnips and cabbage; cook, slightly covered and stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring squash and 2 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid and transfer squash and liquid to a blender; puree until smooth and set aside. When vegetables are tender, uncover and stir in reserved squash puree; cook, stirring occasionally, until soup is slightly thick, 5-10 minutes more; season with salt and pepper and serve with scallions and lime wedges.

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