Haitian Beef and Pumpkin Soup (Soup Joumou)

Soup Joumou or Haitian Beef and Pumpkin Soup is a famous mildly spicy soup native to Haitian cuisine prepared with beef, rigatoni, pumpkin, potato, plantains and vegetables such as parsley, carrots, green cabbage, celery and onions. What sets this dish apart from other stews is the use of pumpkin where it is overcooked and/or pureed until its blended well with the soup. Usually this dish is cooked with a small amount of pasta or vermicelli and/or accompanied with crusty bread to mop the soup up.

Like some of our recipes this dish is quite significant in the cuisine where it came from. This soup is highly dignified by its people as independence, hence every January 1, Haitians all over the world celebrate the first successful slave rebellion, with this soup. But why? During those slavery days, Haitian slaves were not allowed to have this beef and pumpkin soup which was a favourite of French colonizers. Then when they gained their freedom on January 1, 1804, they celebrated with a big party in the Place d’Armes, in the city of Gonaives and the food that they served is the very thing that was forbidden for them to eat, the Soup Joumou or what some coined as “Soup of Freedom”.

Soup Joumou is rich and hearty, it might look like a pumpkin soup but is it not as thick as it, slightly runny, meaty and filled with vegetables. Traditionally it is prepared with the things I mentioned above, but like most traditional recipes, the ingredients vary from household to household and it all depends on their preference, the important thing is that the pumpkin and beef is present. Our recipe today is my preference of cooking them so purists please don’t shoot me, I like it soupier and since Filipinos are big rice eaters, I excluded the pasta so I can use it as a viand for my rice.

Haitian Beef and Pumpkin Soup (Soup Joumou)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 3 pcs beef shanks, roughly 600 g
  • 700 g beef brisket, cubed
  • 1 butternut squash, roughly 800 g, peeled and cubed
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cubed
  • ½ head cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 1 parsley sprig
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 stalk leek, thinly sliced
  • 6 pcs whole cloves
  • 2 pcs Scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 whole garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • juice from ½ lime
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • oil
Epis (Haitian Seasoning Base)
  • ½ small green bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • ½ small red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 red small onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup roughly chopped parsley leaves with tender stems
  • 4 pcs basil leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  1. Place all Epis ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Remove then set aside.
  2. In a bowl place the beef shanks and beef brisket then pour the white vinegar. Mix it well making sure the vinegar is evenly distributed to the meat. Place beef in the colander then rinse it with running cold water.
  3. Place meat in a large bowl, pour Epis seasoning then let the it marinate overnight.
  4. In a large soup pot add oil then sauté garlic and onions.
  5. Add leeks and celery then continue to sauté for a minute.
  6. Add the marinated beef let it sizzle then add the butternut squash and pour beef stock, bring it to a boil then let it simmer for 1½ hrs.
  7. At this stage squash should be disintegrated and combined with the soup if there are remaining solid squash mash it with the back of a spoon.
  8. Add potatoes, carrots, cabbage, cloves, chillies, parsley and thyme spring, continue to cook for 30 minutes. Add water if necessary.
  9. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, place butter on top, squeeze lime on top then serve.



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