The Real Treasure of the Caribbean: Haiti, Part 3. Liberty Soup.

The final and the most important installment of this set of recipes (for Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here) is unique – where else do you see a dish that symbolizes liberty? On January 1st, Haitians celebrate not only the beginning of a new year, but first and foremost, the beginning of their country’s independence, and they celebrate it by eating Soup Joumou – the pumpkin soup, or yellow soup, as they call it.

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The Statue of the Unknown Maroon (runaway slave), by Haitian sculptor A. Mangones, proudly stands in front of the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince as a symbol of the Haitian slave revolution that won Haiti her freedom in 1804 and thus created the second independent nation after the United States. No wonder this unique historical event is celebrated by a unique dish, a combination of soup and stew, but more on the stew side.

“Soup joumou is everything. For Haitians, it really is our freedom soup,” said Nadege Fleurimond, who runs a catering business in New York. “If you speak to a Haitian in Paris or a Haitian in the Bahamas, the soup is going to come up if it’s January 1. Even if you don’t make it, you’re trying to find who made it so you can go eat it.” (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/haitian-independence-soup-joumou-recipe-article)

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We hear about Toussaint Louverture, a self-educated former slave with a brilliant military mind called The Black Napoleon, the first revolutionary general who was cruelly deceived by Emperor Napoleon’s “expeditionary force” dispatched to restore the French rule. The leader of the force was given strict orders “to wage a war to the death with no mercy and all of Toussaint’s followers to be shot when captured” (J. Perry,  Arrogant Armies Great Military Disasters and the Generals Behind Them, 2005). Meanwhile, Louverture was sent letters promising,  “Have no worries about your personal fortune. It will be safeguarded for you, since it has been only too well earned by your own efforts. Do not worry about the liberty of your fellow citizens” (Ibid.) Eventually, he was captured and brought to France where he perished in prison.

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But the plantation owners “who have been expecting the Haitians to happily go back to being their slaves as they believed it was natural for blacks to be the slaves of whites were stunned to learn how much the Haitians hated them for wanting to reduce them back to a life in chains” (Ibid.) had another thing coming as Jean-Jacques Dessalines stepped in to take the leadership role. Born in slavery, he served in the revolutionary army under Toussaint Louverture, demonstrated his own military brilliance, declared Haiti an independent nation in 1804, and thus became its first native-born ruler. Dessalines is considered the founding father of the country that assumed its original Taino name Haiti (Ayiti in Kreol) – “land of the mountains.” According to a local legend, it was his wife Marie-Claire Heureuse who made the first Liberty Soup on January 1, 1804.

Unfortunately, I can only show you a trailer to this incredible award-winning documentary by D. Alexis, as the entire film is not available for sharing. “But the story behind it is, blacks and slaves were not allowed to drink the soup” says Alexis, “It was a delicacy—something reserved for French slave masters. When Haitians threw out the French, they vested this previously forbidden food with new meaning. The soup became a symbol of Haitian independence and freedom.”

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The main ingredient is, of course, joumou, from French giraumon, which is winter squash, or calabaza. But if you can’t get it, butternut squash will work just as well. Before you start cooking the most “forbidden to slaves” ingredients of the soup, you have to prepare the Haitian flavor base – epis. Traditionally, it is made by using onion, garlic, parsley, and different colors of bell peppers, grinding them together into a paste by mortar and pestle. You can use your trusty food processor and achieve the same result. Mix the paste with lime juice and marinate beef chunks in it for about 30 minutes. Peel your pumpkin, deseed it, cut it into chunks, and simmer it together with chunks of beef (marrow bones add thickness and flavor). Meanwhile, get your veggies ready.

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Once your pumpkin chunks are soft, fish them out, puree them, and throw them right back. Add water, add epis, and add all the rest of the veggies: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, leeks, cabbage, parsnips, cloves, hot pepper, and generally anything else you can think of or find in your fridge. As if there aren’t enough carbs already, you can also add some penne or rotini pasta.  Season it with salt and pepper, add some olive oil, a splash of lime juice, and some sweet red wine, and simmer until the vegetables are very soft – for another 30 minutes. Give it a stir once in a while, to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick. Then add another splash of lime juice and simmer some more until beef is so tender, it melts in your mouth.

 

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To make sure that yesterday’s hungry slaves eat their full, Liberty Soup is served with yet another luxury – crusty French bread. Garnish it with a fresh sprig of parsley or thyme. As you make this incredibly filling delicacy, think of hardworking people in a proud little country, the first and only slaves in history who fought for and won their independence.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 lb beef for stew cut into cubes
  • 1 pound marrow bones
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sweet red wine
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 medium calabaza or butternut squash , peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 small green cabbage, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 1 green Scotch bonnet or habanero chile pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked penne or rotini pasta
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1 thyme sprig to garnish

PROCEDURE

  • Soak beef in vinegar, then rinse with water.
  • Make epis by processing onion, garlic, bell peppers, parsley, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, and a pinch of salt to a paste. Marinate beef in epis for at least 30 minutes.
  • Add squash to marinated beef and bones, cover with water, bring to boil, then simmer until squash is soft, 20–25 minutes. Remove squash, puree until smooth. Return to pot and bring to a simmer.
  • Add potatoes, carrots, cabbage, celery, leek, parsnips, hot pepper, pasta, cloves, and remaining water to 6 quarts. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer until pasta and vegetables are soft, 30–35 minutes.
  • Add oil, wine, and remaining lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until beef is very tender, 15–20 minutes more.
  • Garnish individual servings with a sprig of fresh parsley or thyme, serve with crusty French bread.

Enjoy!

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58 Comments Add yours

  1. mahdheebah says:

    Foooooooood😍😍😍😍😍😍😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thaaaaaank you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Kay, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. blondieaka says:

    Reblogged this on Retired? No one told me! and commented:
    A lovely story of triumph and freedom over adversity which makes this recipe for Liberty Soup all the more special…..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging and for a lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. blondieaka says:

        You are welcome.. I love it when a recipe is more than just a recipe it brings it to life ..for me anyway 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. You are so kind – thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Osyth says:

    Freedom. Hard-won, bitterly suffered for freedom is the greatest prize of all. Ironically (And equally tragically) 140 years later the French resistance in the Verdicts were sold a similar pack of lies by de Gaulle and Churchill which resulted in a sitting duck slaughter of innocents that would chill the blood of any human with a iota of feeling. I shall make this soup and I shall eat it with friends and break bread in honour of Haiti and all her sisters across the world who have and are still trying to break the chains. This is a wonderfully informative piece with true heart and soul.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Osyth, for your wonderful comment. I am very much aware of the betrayal and massacre of the maquis. Atrocities are all of the same kind, no matter where and when they occur, and no matter how they are justified by those who commit them. It is the attitude of some people who consider others “non-people” that lays the background of mass exploitation and mass murder.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Osyth says:

        I noticed a frightful auto-correct in my comment … it should of course say Vercors, not Verdicts. But my verdict is the exact same as yours. I find it absolutely abhorrent and disgraceful that we have ever and are still living in a world where there are people who are as you put it so well ‘non- people’. It is always a pleasure to comment on a really well researched and well presented piece that gives me food for thought (and my belly)

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I maintain that learning goes in much better with food, so I try to combine them. Essentially, I am simply having fun with it, most of the time, but once in a while I am affected by the topic. Thank you again!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow – what a wonderful way to honor turning everything around. We all yearn to be free, don’t we? I’d love to live in a world where no one was enslaved in any manner.

    I’ll wait until Fall to make a GF version of this soup. When I do I’ll think about how wonderful how it must have felt to those former slaves to finally be able to partake of the soup some of them probably had to fix for their “owners.”

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful victory, Dolly.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for a great comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting story and recipe. Will keep it in mind for the winter. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Ronit, your opinion is always valuable to me!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reblogging.

      Like

  6. spearfruit says:

    Dolly, this soup is yummy! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Terry! I wish I could send you some!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. E says:

    As always I love the meaning and history tied to the pumpkin chunks in my soup xo Beautiful!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This looks so good Dolly. I had pumpkin soup years ago and so enjoyed it and now to have you post this recipe is a God send. The story adds to the table talk. Thank you.

    Like

    1. I am so glad to have provided not only a recipe, but also a topic for conversation – enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. It’s interesting when a meal has history behind it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for your lovely comment! I believe everything has a history, and I am always fascinating by it.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice!! Looks so good 😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Nina, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a fascinating story!!
    And the soup looks yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Melinda!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome, Dolly.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am planning to make it for Thanksgiving as it is too hot for something as heavy as this soup. What about your part of Sunshine state – is the sun shining?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It was sunny today. But it has been plenty cloudy, and rainy the last week or so.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Same here, and very humid.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. These were all so interesting! I wonder how many foods worldwide are symbols/commemorations of reconciliations or attributed to peacemakings. Would be an interesting food menu. SMILES!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You just issued a challenge,and I have never refused a challenge in my life,but it make take a while. I truly appreciate your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is a humongous challenge! Wow!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like humongous challenges, but they take humongous amount of time, which is fine with me.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I would like to add – I suppose many commemorated foods may have become a staple food. I am curious regarding potatoes, tamales, chicharones (chitterlings) ..

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Fascinating topic to research – I thank you for it!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Joëlle says:

    When I make this soup in the fall I will remember the people of Haiti. In the meantime, I want to thank you very much for this recipe, Dolly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Joelle; I am also planning to make it for Thanksgiving. I hope you are well!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. dtills says:

    HI, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog! I have nominated you for a Sunshine Blogger Award! You can find it at https://invisible-no-more.com/2017/07/04/sunshine-blogger-awards-1-2/
    Have a great day!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for the unexpected honor!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Dolly. I really enjoy your deliciously interesting posts and have increased my collection of recipes as well. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Kim, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. John Kraft says:

    It sound’s so delicious.

    I would love to find an easy recipe for Gazpacho.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, John! Gazpacho is really very easy: just b;end tomatoes with tomato juice, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeno, and vinegar or lemon juice. Add salt and pepper and any spices you like, and chill it – that’s all there is to it! I can’t post it because I can’t make it, and I can’t make it because I am not supposed to have tomatoes. But it’s a snap!

      Like

    1. I thought you might like it – I think my love and admiration for my Haitian students and their country shines right through! Thank you for reblogging.

      Like

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