Delicious, hearty, and packed with robust flavors, this Vegan Soup Joumou or Haitian Pumpkin is a celebratory dish. It is served every year on the 1st of January to celebrate the Country’s Independence, and is one of Haiti’s most savored foods.
This vibrant Haitian soup is what you would expect at every Haitian household on January 1st. And yes, people expect you to come to their house to enjoy this dish with them.
Thick and hearty, Soup Joumou was once only prepared for slave masters, with Haitian slaves forbidden to enjoy it.
Today, it is a reminder of not only the nation’s struggle, but victory against their oppressors, and is one of Haiti’s most savored foods.
Traditionally cooked with beef, this recipe is a vegan version that is just as delicious and packed full of flavor.
Importance Of Soup Joumou
The importance of this soup is the reminder of the dark cloud that once forbade some individuals the privilege of simply being human. The ability to overcome such dark cloud to gain victory over it.
As previously mentioned, during slavery, Haitian slaves were not allowed to enjoy this soup as it was only prepared for the slave masters. Slaves were only able to enjoy the remanence of the soup, which was a completely watered down version without any substance.
Therefore, on January 1, 1804, Haiti’s Independence Day, the newly freed Haitians celebrated their freedom with Soup Joumou (Haitian Pumpkin Soup)!
No matter where you are in the world, if you are Haitian or of Haitian descend, you are most likely celebrating the New Year with a bowl of Haitian Squash Soup or Soup Joumou.
It is said you cannot make soup Joumou without love, patience, and a smile.
Squash Or Pumpkin
The key base ingredient of Soup Joumou is the pumpkin or squash, lending it a slightly sweet flavor, bold orange color and a tantalizingly thick consistency.
Rather than being left as cubes, for the Soup Joumou, you will cook your pumpkin or squash until soft before blending it with stock and water.
Calabaza squash, butternut squash, or pie pumpkin are the best choices here as opposed to the acorn or other pumpkin varieties. They tend to be harvested locally in the winter.
The result is a more nutritious vegetable with that subtle sweetness that helps make the dish.
Stock And Vegetable Base
Adding some additional flavor to the soup base is adding in fresh ingredients. This pre-chopped vegetable mix can be found at Trader Joe’s, and is a delicious blend of cabbages, carrots, broccoli, bell pepper, jicama, radish and celery. Which will work fine in the soup if you are press for time.
However, adding fresh ingredients is best. The combination of fresh flavors when simmered along with your bouillon will add extra complexity to your vegan Soup Joumou, not to mention some incredible nutrition.
As with any soup, the quality of your broth will have a huge impact on the end flavor of your dish. As this is a vegan recipe, naturally we will want to use vegetable broth, and the Better Than Bouillon paste, as they are amongst the best for flavor and vegan frienfly. This rich base will bring out the best in your other ingredients and is well worth using over bouillon blocks or cubes.
Fresh parsley, sage, and thyme are used in this dish to give an earthy, slightly peppery taste that works perfectly with the flavorsome vegetables. You should always avoid opting for the dried herbs here if you can, as the fresh plants give a much cleaner taste.
Adding in an extra punch to this soup are fresh chopped ginger and the juice from a few lemons or limes. These zesty, tangy and acidic flavors impart a distinctive Caribbean fair to the dish and gave it a unique flavor profile.
You can find Soup Joumou with the addition of either spaghetti or macaroni, though I much prefer macaroni as it gives a better texture and is easier to eat. The addition of the pasta makes Soup Joumou deliciously filling and ensures that even without the beef you won’t be missing out.
It’s important that you only add the pasta in for the last 10 minutes, otherwise they can be easily overcooked. But just so that you are aware, paste is optional and not necessasry.
You can use fresh pasta if you happen to have it on hand and if you don’t mind your soup being vegetarian rather than vegan. Just bear in mind it will only take a couple of minutes to cook, so remember to add it in later.
Preparing For The Haitian Pumpkin Soup
Authentic Soup Joumou is made in sections or stages. Usually the chores will be divided amongst the women or children if they’d like to help.
For example, one person is in charge of peeling the vegetables; from cabbage to the malanga, scallions or green onion, peppers, carrots, potatoes, and so on.
The list goes on depending on your taste buds and the cook’s preference. Another person is entrusted of making sure the vegetables are included in the proper order.
Authentic Soup Joumou takes HOURS to prepare. As stated, a lot of patience is required. A lot of love is poured into this soup EACH YEAR.
The time to make this vegan Haitian Pumpkin soup as decreased tremendously as no meat is included.
The soup is finished with pasta: spaghetti or macaroni noodles. I personally do not like it with spaghetti. I prefer it with macaroni noodles or elbow macaroni as used in this recipe.
Once everything is combined, the slow cooking process begins overnight so it can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch and lunch.
Most large families often begin their day by having the soup at home. Then most likely one or two things will happen. A family may entertain guests for more soup or travel to visit family members to enjoy someone else’s soup.
This soup brings EVERYONE together!
How To Make Haitian Soup Joumou (Haitian Pumpkin Soup)
The full list of ingredients and exact measurements are listed in the recipe card.
For now, listed below are the ingredients you’ll need and step-by-step guide to help you make this Haitian Pumpkin Soup dish perfectly each time.
We used 2 pumpkins (7lbs. total.) – Best to use Calabaza squash, butternut squash, or pie pumpkin, or an “orange” colored pumpkin. Do not use acorn as it will not work in this recipe.
Macaroni – We used organic elbow macaroni. Feel free to substitute with a gluten free version if needed.
Ginger – Use Fresh ginger as it will help to season the sauce.
Carrots – The carrots will help to add some sweetness to this Haitian Squash Soup.
Cabbage – Green cabbage is used in this recipe. Do not substitute it for red cabbage. It is not authentic and may alter the flavor of this delicious Soup Joumou.
Salt and Pepper – Is used to flavor the soup
Cloves and Garlic Cloves – Do not use garlic powder as it contains salt. Use fresh garlic to enhance the flavor in this soup. However, you may use ground cloves if desired as it can be unpleasant when chewed.
Lemon Juice – We cannot make Haitian recipes without adding acid to the dish. Lemon, limes, and vinegar play an important role in our recipes. You can read more about our Haitian Cuisine here.
Sage, Thyme, Parsley – These are also key herbs to use when making Haitian Foods. It is best to use fresh herbs as much as possible as it will help the other flavors in this dish come to life.
Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base – This will help enhance the flavor the dish.
Olive Oil – We recommend using a good quality Olive oil. This is needed to sauté the onions and garlic.
Water – We need the liquid to form the soup.
Potatoes – The potatoes are added in to make the soup hearty.
Onions and Green Onions – Gives it that earthy flavor and works well with the cloves.
The Cooking Process:
Start by prepping your ingredients: Set aside the Olive oil, Better than Bouillon Paste, Herbs, Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper, Cloves, Ginger and Macaroni.
Wash the pumpkin thoroughly. Remove all dirt and debris. Cut the pumpkin into small cubes. Peel the pumpkin if you do not have a high-quality blender. However, we did not peel ours in this recipe.
The skin in pumpkins is filled with vitamin A and is high in fiber.
Cut the pumpkin in cubes and set aside. Discard the seeds and inside flesh.
In a large 12 Quart Stockpot, add the pumpkin and 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender.
While the pumpkin is cooking prepare the other ingredients.
Peel the carrots cut into about 6-8 pieces, wash and set aside.
Next, peel the potatoes, cut into quarters, wash and set aside in water.
Then, cut the cabbage into small chunks or medium size slices. Wash and set aside in water. Do not cut the cabbage too thin as it will over cook when added with the other ingredients.
Chop the onions, then wash and set aside. Then chop the garlic and green onions (wash) and set aside.
When the pumpkin is done cooking, remove the stockpot from the heat and set aside, leaving the pumpkin in the water.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil, when heated through, add the onions, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Cook until translucent and starts to caramelize. When cooked, set aside.
Transfer the stockpot back to the stovetop and over medium heat, use an immersion blender to blend the squash. If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer the squash and the liquid to a high-quality blender. After blending, return to the stockpot.
Next, add in the sauté garlic, onions, and green peppers to the blended pumpkin.
Followed by the potatoes, cabbage, carrots, herbs, water, better than bouillon paste, salt and pepper, cloves or ground cloves, lemon juice. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium.
When the cabbage is closed to being cooked, add in the macaroni. Bring to simmer for about 15 -20 minutes over medium low heat. Stirring occasionally to avoid the sticking at the bottom.
The soup joumou will thicken as it simmers. Transfer to a bowl and serve with French bread.
Soup Joumou Recipe Notes
Peeling the pumpkin is not necessary but an option.
As you prepare your vegetables, it’s best to keep the vegetables in water after washing so that they maintain their color and is still “fresh” when ready to use.
Do not cut the cabbage too thin as it will over cook when added with the other ingredients.
It’s important that you only add the pasta in for the last 10 minutes, otherwise they can be easy to overcook.
The soup will continue to thicken as it sits, dilute it with water if necessary when ready to eat and enjoy.
More Haitian Recipes You’ll Enjoy
If you love this Vegan Soup Joumou or Haitian Pumpkin Soup, try one of these Haitian recipes next:
Haitian Legume (eggplant stew)
More Squash or Pumpkin Soup To Enjoy
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Vegan Haitian Soup Joumou
- 12 Quart Stockpot
- 2 Pumpkins 7lbs. Total. One pumpkin 4 Lbs and the other 3 Lbs. Best to use Calabaza squash or butternut squash
- 3 Cups Elbow Macaroni – We used organic elbow macaroni. Feel free to substitute with a gluten free version if needed.
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger Grated
- 8 Large Carrots Cut into about 8 pieces each
- 1 Cabbage; About 2lbs.
- 6 Tsp. Salt Or To Taste
- 3 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper Or To Taste
- 6 Cloves Or 2 Tsp. Ground Cloves
- 5 Garlic Cloves
- Juice From 3 Lemons
- Herbs; About 5 Sage Leaves 7 sprigs Fresh Parsley, & About 8 Sprigs Of Fresh Thyme
- 6 Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon Paste Vegetable Base
- 4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 32 Oz. Vegetable Broth
- 12 Cups Water; Divided – 10 Cups Of Water To Cook The Pumpkin And 2 Cups To Add To The Soup
- 5 Green Onions; Chopped
- 1 Lb. Gold Potatoes; Cut Into Quarters
- 1 Large Onion; Roughly Chopped
- Start by prepping your ingredients: Set aside the Olive oil, Better than Bouillon Paste, Herbs, Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper, Cloves, Ginger and Macaroni.Wash the pumpkin thoroughly. Remove all dirt and debris. Cut the pumpkin into small cubes. Peel the pumpkin if you do not have a high-quality blender. However, we did not peel the pumpkin. Discard the seeds and inside flesh.
- In a large 12 Quart Stockpot, add the pumpkin and 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender and fork through.While the pumpkin is cooking prepare the other ingredients.Peel the carrots cut into about 6-8 pieces, wash and set aside.Next, peel the potatoes, cut into quarters, wash and set aside in water.Then, cut the cabbage into small chunks or medium size slices. Wash and set aside in water. Do not cut the cabbage too thin as it will over cook when added with the other ingredients.Chop the onions, then wash and set aside. Then chop the garlic and green onions (wash) and set aside.
- When the pumpkin is done cooking, remove the stockpot from the heat and set aside, leaving the cooked pumpkin in the water.In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil, when heated through, add the onions, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Cook until translucent and starts to caramelize. When cooked, set the skillet aside.Transfer the stockpot back to the stovetop and over medium heat, use an immersion blender to blend the squash. If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer the squash and the liquid to a high-quality blender. After blending, return to the stockpot.Next, add in the sauté garlic, onions, and green peppers to the blended pumpkin.Followed by the potatoes, cabbage, carrots, herbs, 2 cups of water, Vegetable broth, better than bouillon paste, salt and pepper, cloves or ground cloves, lemon juice. Bring to boil over high heat, when it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium.When the cabbage is closed to being cooked, add in the macaroni. Bring to simmer for about 15 -20 minutes over medium low heat. Stirring occasionally to avoid the sticking at the bottom.The soup joumou will thicken as it simmers. Transfer to a bowl and serve with French bread.
Thank you for this! I made this as a child with my mother a few times, but never made it myself. Your recipe a helpful guide and it’s delicious. Thanks for having a vegan recipe as well.
Happy New Year & Happy Haitian Independence Day!
Thank you so much, Gerry. Happy New Year and Independence Day as well.
how many cups of pumpkin actually go into the recipe. i am sorry that i don’t have the necessary to to make it fresh. (i apologize.) i would either buy pre-cut squash or canned pumpkin. how much would i need. thanks!
Hello Michelle, you can use 2 15oz can pumpkin. Hope you enjoy the soup.
I love everything about this recipe and its just bursting with flavors and looks great with your easy instructions I cant wait to make it thank you!
Love the flavor combination here. A perfect fall recipe. Thanks for sharing
This soup sounds delicious, and thank you for sharing the history as well.
Thank you so much.
This soup is so perfect for fall. Thank you for the great recipe.
Such a wonderful dish! So important to know the history behind it too. Your vegan version looks absolutely incredible.
Thank you so much, Tara!!