Soup Joumou - Soupe Au Giraumon
by Mirta Yurnet-Thomas
The pumpkin used for this soup is called calabaza, commonly known as Cuban squash, West Indian pumpkin, and giraumon. This soup is traditionally served on New Year's Day and is prepared early New Year's morning with lots of pumpkin and lots of beef. All Haitians commence the New Year with this soup, no matter where they live. Haitians, on January 1, make up with friends they have lost throughout the year. They wish all others well. The kids receive gifts, money, food, and mainly cake. If people visit, they offer them homemade grenadine sherry and "Joumou"".
Haitians do not cook a lot of food on New Year's Day because they are preparing for the Ancestor's Day celebration of January 2, which is a tribute to the ancestors who fought for Haiti's independence. On New Year's day, they clean the house and prepare the turkey for the feast of the following day. This is the biggest meal of the year; animals are slaughtered and everyone's best is served. Haiti gained its independence on November 18, 1803. However, the Declaration of Independence was not signed until January 1, 1804, and it is officially celebrated on Ancestor's Day, January 2. On this day, the president addresses the nation and parades take place.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
2 pounds calabaza pumpkin, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 pounds beef neck bones
1 lime, cut in half
2 scallions, including the green tops, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1 shallot, minced
2 chives, minced
1 green pepper, sliced thin
2 tablespoons Pikliz
2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
4 celery stalks, cut in 1-inch pieces
10 cabbage leaves, cut in 4 pieces each
1 leek stalk, sliced in 1-inch pieces (optional)
2 large carrots, peel cut in 1-inch pieces
4 to 6 whole cloves
½ cup spaghetti (or macaroni or a little of both)
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in 4 pieces each
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, whole and pricked with a fork twice
1tablespoon butter (optional)
In a medium pot, cook pumpkin over medium heat in 6 cups water for 30 minutes. Purée pumpkin in the water.
While pumpkin is cooking, clean meat with lime, rinse with cold water and drain. Marinate meat with scallions, onion, garlic, shallot, chives, green pepper, pikliz, salt and black pepper. (You can marinate meat from 1 hour up to one day in advance for flavor enhancement.)
In stockpot, add the meat with 1 cup water and cook covered over medium heat for 40 minutes. Add 3 cups water and puréed pumpkin and bring to a boil for 40 minutes.
Add celery, cabbage, leek, carrots and whole cloves. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add pasta, potatoes, hot pepper, and butter and spoon in dumplings. Cook, uncovered for 20 minutes.
Taste it. If it needs more salt and/or pepper, add to taste.
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