Joumou - Haitian New Year's Soup Recipe
Joumou - Haitian New Year's Soup
Flavors of Haiti
Total time: more than 2 hours

Prep. time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy
Chef's Note

In Haiti, New Year's has particular significance. It is also Haitian Independence Day. Since 1804, as the new year begins, Haitians celebrate by sharing their famous "joumou" soup, made from giraumon (a kind of Caribbean pumpkin), beef, vegetables, spices and pasta, a symbol of freedom and victory.

Two stories about its origin are part of the history: first, it's said that slaves were forbidden from eating the soup. According to other sources, the day after the Republic of Haiti's independence, as Jean-Jacques Dessalines, then general of the revolutionary army, was preparing his speech, his wife sought to find a nutritious food to fortify the Haitian people against the hardships of life after the war. She suggested joumou soup, which she had already been giving to the sick to help them recover their strength.

Originally, rice was sometimes included rather than pasta, along with turnip, yam and mirliton (chayote). 

Some people prepare pikliz, a spicy marinated vegetable salad (see recipe) or a shallot vinaigrette to add to the soup just before serving to enhance the spicy flavor. 

- 1 giraumon (Caribbean pumpkin), about 1.3 kg / 3 lbs
- 500 g / 2.2 lbs beef
- 2 potatoes
- 2 carrots
- 1 leek. white part only
- 2 onions
- 10 cabbage leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- 4 cloves
- 1 liter / 4 cups chicken broth
- 200 g pasta – macaroni or spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
- thyme
- 1 chili
- Juice of 2 limes + more to finish
- Salt & pepper


  1. Rub the beef with a halved lime.
  2. Place in a dish with the lime juice, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes.


  1. Meanwhile, peel and halve the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut into large pieces.
  2. Cook the pumpkin in boiling water for 30 minutes or until it is easily pierced with a knife. Drain and purée immediately while hot to ensure a creamy texture. Set aside. 
  3. Finely chop the onions, garlic, cabbage and leek. Peel and slice the carrots into rounds. Peel and dice the potatoes. 


  1. In a large pot, brown the beef with the carrots, celery, leek and onions for a few minutes.
  2. Add the chicken stock and pumpkin purée, adding a little water if necessary.
  3. Add the cabbage once the soup begins to boil, otherwise it may toughen. Let simmer about 35 minutes, uncovered, until the liquid reduces a bit to give the soup a nice consistency.
  4. Finally, add the pasta, potatoes and chili and simmer another 10 minutes.
  5. Just before the soup is done, add a bunch of parsley and some lime juice to enhance the flavor. Serve hot. 
More recipe ideas

Photo: Courtesy of Whole Foods

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