Fair warning, today, contrary to Haitian practice, I am serving you a pumpkin velouté instead of our traditional pumpkin soup or soup joumou.
Haitians have a particular relationship with and fondness for the January 1st pumpkin soup. That dish is their pride and joy. In recent years, some have even started calling it the Independence soup. It is apparently the soup our predecessors whipped to celebrate their victory a good 216 years ago.
In spite of its claimed glorious past, as most of you know after reading my articles Savory Haitian Pumpkin Pie and Garlic Roasted Fall vegetables, this soup never conquered my palate. I still link it to horrible souvenirs of painful childhood meals. Though it now bears the nickname of January 1st soup, this Haitian pumpkin soup is also a popular Sunday breakfast. It is the dish many Haitian families serve on those days. Needless to say that I have had my fair share of pumpkin soups seasoned with tears and nasal discharges.
To this day, I can see my face covered in tears at Sunday breakfast. Just picture a young miserable girl at a table with a bowl of yellow soup mixture in front of her.
The very same bowl the table guests are enjoying. All she can hear are the clacking of spoons and slurps of contentment that interrupt the silence. Everyone but her is overjoyed with this meal. With a sad puppy face, she observes them as they dip their spoon in the bowl and chew and swallow ingredients she despises. Cabbage, turnips, carrots, gelatinous meat, celery leaves, are all ingredients she occasionally spits out hoping her defiance goes unnoticed. Let’s not even mention the chicken feet some guests can’t stop sucking on. She hates them.
Yet, she knows she has no choice but to swallow this soup and its ingredients spoon after spoon. This torture is even worse when she finds herself at a friend’s table. That girl was raised to be polite. She thus knows she has to pretend to enjoy this soup her hosts have so thoughtfully served. She can’t help but wonder why this dish couldn’t include potatoes and potatoes only. This is the only component of that soup her palate is fond of. I spent years asking myself that question. Until recently, I didn’t know about the pumpkin velouté.
That preparation was going to revolutionize my taste for our Haitian pumpkin; a vegetable my fellow citizens love so much.
If only our ancestors knew how delicious and easy to prepare a velouté is. That is, of course, my very biased opinion. I discovered the pumpkin velouté about five years ago. At the time, I still had a strong aversion for our pumpkin, which I avoided at all cost. Yet, from the very first spoonful of velouté, I was pleasantly surprised. That soup was so rich, smooth and creamy, it became one of my favorite ways of consuming this vegetable. It is this very same velouté, I am serving you today. I, however, know that on January 1st 2020, as I wake up at a friend’s house, I will be forced to pretend to enjoy the traditional soup joumou they will most certainly serve at breakfast.
My Haitian joumou pumpkin soup in velouté form
calls for just a few ingredients until the traditional soup joumou, which calls
for beef chunks, chicken feet, carrots, turnips, potatoes, celery, both spaghetti
and macaroni…see for yourself with the ingredient list and instructions below. Please note that the water proportions are approximate and will vary according to your
taste. I tend to like my velouté thick, so I try not to add too much liquid to
- ½ giraumon
- 3 potatoes
- 2-3 leeks chopped
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Fresh thyme
- 10 cl of cream
- Grated Tête de Maure cheese
- Wash and peel the potatoes
- Transfer them along with the pumpkin and leeks (optional) to a pot filled with water
- Bring to a boil and let cook until the vegetables are so tender they can be easily pureed
- Extract the pumpkin pulp from the vegetable skin
- Transfer it to a blender along with the potatoes and leeks (optional)
- Add just enough of the water to the blender to help the pureeing process
- Once the mixture is smooth and creamy transfer it to a pot
- Add about ½ or 1 cup of water. How much you add will depend on how thick you want your velouté to be. It should be on the creamier side
- Season lightly with salt and pepper and the bunch of thyme
- Uncover and let simmer until the mixture thickens, about 45 minutes
- Remove the thyme bunch
- Just before serving, add the cream and cheese
- Mix well until the cheese melts
- Serve warm