Aunt Suzy says .  .  . 

When I saw this video recently pushed out by PBS about Soup Joumou, a soup that celebrates Haitian Independence Day each year on January 1st, I knew I had to make it! I have since learned that Leah Penniman has adapted the classic Haitian recipe to food she grows on her farm, Soul Fire Farm, in Upstate New York. Her story of growing food to end racism create justice through food is inspiring – I encourage you to watch the video! The one thing that this adapted recipe and the classic have in common is the use of pureed winter squash as the liquid in which the soup is cooked, something I’ve not encountered before. Something which is delicious!!

I share with you my own adaptation of Leah’s recipe. It was interesting to me that the video of her making the soup did not jive with the written recipe, which is included at the end of the video page. So there are lots of options for ingredients and methods. The written recipe is Vegan, my adapted recipe of how she made the soup in the video uses chicken and chicken stock, and the classic recipe uses beef. I plan to try the classic one of these days and will report back. I would make this for New Year’s Day as is the Haitian tradition, but I’m too busy with our Southern U.S. traditional good luck meal. 🙂

Leah Penniman’s Soup Joumou

Ingredients

1 medium winter squash – butternut, kabocha, etc.

7-8 cups chicken stock, or water for vegan/vegetarian

3 Tbsp oil, olive or canola

1 medium onion, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 medium jalapeno pepper, or other hot pepper, minced

2-4 cloves garlic, to taste, minced

2-3 yukon gold potatoes, 3/4-inch cubes

1-2 carrots, cut lengthwise and then in 1-inch pieces

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small or 1/2 medium cabbage, cored and chopped

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped (I used Tuscan, but curly will work as well)

1 cup cooked chicken, diced or shredded, optional for vegan/vegetarian

juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 pound pasta, small shapes like penne or rotini

Prepare the squash

Slice the squash into rounds or half-rounds as shown. Place on an oiled baking sheet, turning to coat with oil.  (Use a neutral oil for this, not olive oil.) Bake for 20ish minutes until soft, turning after 10 minutes. Cool. Puree with 3 cups of chicken stock, using a food processor, blender or, as I did, a stick blender. Set puree aside. (Note: I cut one round of roasted squash into cubes and added to the soup with the kale and cabbage. Your call if you want to do that or not.)

Prepare the Soup

Heat the oil in a soup pot or dutch oven. Once it shimmers, add the onion, jalapeno and celery. Saute over medium heat for 5 or so minutes until soft. Add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the potatoes and carrots, saute for a few minutes until coated with the oil and heated through. Add 3 cups chicken stock and the pureed squash. Stir to thoroughly blend and determine if you want to add more chicken stock, depending on whether you like your soups thick or “brothy”. Cook for 15 minutes until the potatoes and carrots begin to soften. Add the kale and cabbage and cook for 10 more minutes. Check for doneness. The vegetables should be cooked through, but not mushy. Add the cooked chicken. This could be from a roast or rotisserie chicken or a cooked chicken breast, boneless or bone-in, your choice!

Serving the soup

When soup is cooked to your desired doneness, stir in the lime juice and the parsley. Cook the pasta according to directions to al dente. If you plan to eat all the soup at one meal, stir the cooked pasta into the soup. If not, place a little pasta in the bottom of soup bowls, then add the soup to serve.