It's been a common tradition for Haitians around the world to savor squash soup made from pumpkin (soup joumou in Creole) every new year's day.
Every January 1st they unite with their family to take part in the traditional soup in order to start a prosperous New Year and to commemorate Haiti's Independence Day. Having this delicious soup on New Year's Day is heavily rooted in the Haitian culture and history.
According to some Historians and researchers, the preparation of the squash soup and its consumption goes back to January 1st, 1804. Right after Haiti's proclamation of independence Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur, Jean-Jacques Dessalines' wife, wanted to prepare a meal rich in nutrients that will allow the free population to overcome hunger for at least 15 days due to a shortage of food after a savage 13-year war struggle against the French. So, she proposed squash soup for its nutritive values, then concocted it with pumpkin, white turnip, chayote, potato, white yam, cabbage, and carrots. The huge pot of squash soup was so abundant that everyone present was served a bowl to show their strength in unity and celebrate their victory in Gonaives as Haiti became the world's first independent black republic.
Others stated that before Haiti's independence only the French masters were allowed to drink the extravagant squash soup during their own feasts, while the slaves were limited to drink a bland bread soup. The symbolic gesture of eating the forbidden soup was incorporated as a slap of the slaves against the defeated colonists.
Based upon these historical significances, the authentic recipe of Dessalines' wife became very popular, and remained a symbol of liberty in the face of adversity. The year after, Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur added new ingredients to the soup, but was originally stripped of meat. From January 1st, 1804 to these days, many changes were brought to the squash soup recipe as people added meat, vermicelli, macaroni for extra flavor.
What better way to celebrate the new year with the delicious and aromatic soup our ancestors enjoyed on Haiti's independence. So, as African descents, the Haitian people remain connected to their roots and continue to extend this culinary legacy from generation to generation. Every January 1st, they enjoy the squash soup with an opulence of meat and vegetables, to remember their glorious history, and to forever forge the bonds of brotherhood as well as commit to a bright future. They wish to get rid off of the bad memories they experienced in the past and vow to start a better and prosperous new year filled with joy, peace, love, health, and faith throughout the rest of the year.
Below is a link for the Haitian squash soup recipe that you can hopefully prepare to start a bright and healthy new year and enjoy it with your friends and family.
• 1 lb. malanga peeled and cubed or equivalent
• 3 medium sized turnips, peeled and cubed
• 2 limes cut in half and juiced
• 1/4 lb vermicelli, macaroni broken short
• 4 garlic cloves, 2 sliced scallions,
• 1 teaspoon thyme,
• 2 teaspoon of salt,
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper, all grinded or pounded
• 1 scotch bonnet pepper, with stem (hot).
Haitian Squash Soup
Squash Soup recipe
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