Leah Penniman’s Soup Joumou Recipe | PBS Food

Leah Penniman’s Soup Joumou

Soup Joumou, also known as the Haitian Independence Soup, is a hearty pumpkin (or squash) soup that is traditionally served on January 1 to commemorate the day of Haiti’s liberation from France in 1804. The soup was once a delicacy reserved for white enslavers but forbidden to the enslaved people who cooked it. After winning their independence, Haitians made a tradition of eating the soup each Independence Day (New Year’s Day) to celebrate their freedom.

This is Leah Penniman's version of the traditional Haitian recipe, adapted to use seasonal farm ingredients grown in the cold upstate New York climate. Click here for a more traditional version of the recipe.

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  • 1 lb Kabocha squash or Caribbean pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 pound roasted, shredded chicken or beef (optional)
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, chopped
  • ½ lb cabbage, chopped
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 leeks or scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup sweet corn, fresh or canned
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper or other spicy pepper
  • ¼ lb pasta (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 can (12 oz) whole coconut milk
  • Salt, pepper, and thyme to taste
  • Dash of sweetener (optional)


  1. Coat the squash/pumpkin in a bit of oil, spread out on a baking sheet, and roast in a 375 F oven until golden brown and tender (about 40 to 45 minutes). Simultaneously, in a separate pan, roast the remaining vegetables (except corn, parsley, hot pepper) in oil and a bit of salt until golden and tender.
  2. Blend the cooked squash with coconut milk in a blender or food processor.
  3. Mix the squash-coconut mixture with the water and bring to a low boil.
  4. Add the roasted vegetables, as well as the corn, parsley, and hot pepper.
  5. Add the spices, optional sweetener, and lime juice to suit your taste.
  6. Cook for 15-20 minutes to blend the flavors.
  7. If you are using pasta, add it when there are 10 remaining minutes of cook time. Enjoy!


The squash and hot peppers are essential ingredients. All other ingredients can be substituted with similar vegetables that are locally available, such as kale or tomatoes for example.
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