Soup Joumou

This vegetable and beef Haitian soup is rich and savory, making it perfect for cozy winter months.

Haitian Soup Joumou

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Shell Royster

Active Time:
2 hrs 20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 45 mins
10 servings
5 quarts soup

Soup Joumou is a beef, vegetable, and squash Haitian stew commonly eaten on January 1 to signify the anniversary of freedom from French Colonial rule in 1804. 

Prior to the 1804 rebellion, enslaved Haitians would prepare the soup for plantation owners and the upper class. Now Haitians in Haiti and throughout the diaspora enjoy this soup to commemorate the first successful rebellion against their oppressors. This recipe is so significant that it has been placed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

This recipe begins with an Epis, the aromatic flavor base that is one of the backbones of Haitian cooking, which is made by pureeing bell peppers, scallions, onions and garlic. Here, Epis is used as a marinade for the beef; freeze any leftover Epis for up to one month to use as a marinade or to swirl into soups, stews, or sauces.



  • 1 cup chopped scallions (from 5 medium scallions)

  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

  • 1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper

  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • 1/3 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (from 1 to 2 medium sprigs)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil

  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped, about 2 1/2 tablespoons


  • 2 pounds beef stew meat (mixture of chuck and beef stew meat), cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces 

  • 1 cup white vinegar

  • 1 medium lime, halved

  • 1 cup Epis 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes), divided 

  • 5 1/3 cups cubed (1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces) calabaza squash or butternut squash (1 medium)

  • 7 cups water, divided, plus more as needed

  • 4 1/2 cups cubed (3/4- to 1-inch pieces) peeled russet potatoes (from 2 large potatoes)

  • 2 1/2 cups sliced (1/4- to 1/2-inch thick) green cabbage (from 1 [2-lb.] head cabbage) 

  • 1 1/2 cups halved and sliced (1/4- to 1/2-inch thick) yellow onion (from 1 medium onion)

  • 1 1/3 cups finely chopped leek (white and light green parts only) (from 1 medium leek)

  • 1 1/3 cups peeled finely chopped turnips (from 2 small turnips)

  • 2/3 cup sliced (1/4- to 1/2-inch thick) carrots (from 2 medium carrots)

  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped celery (from 1 medium celery stalk)

  • 1 (2-inch) fresh green Scotch bonnet chile or habanero chile

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 6 whole cloves

  • 1 (11 3/4-inch) parsley sprig

  • 1 (5 1/2-inch) thyme sprig

  • 1 cup uncooked dried rigatoni pasta (2 1/2 ounces) 

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Prepare the Epis:

  1. Process scallions, parsley, bell peppers, onion, thyme, oil, and garlic in a food processor or high-speed blender until smooth and well combined, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Reserve 1 cup Epis for Soup; remaining Epis may be covered and stored in a freezer-safe container in freezer for up to 1 month.

Prepare the Soup:

  1. Place beef and vinegar in a large bowl. Squeeze lime halves over beef mixture; rub meat with inside of lime halves. Rinse with cold water, and drain; return meat to bowl.

  2. Add Epis, oil, seasoned salt, and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice to meat in bowl; stir until well coated. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

  3. When meat is nearly done marinating, fill a 7- to 8-quart pot with water, and bring to a boil over medium; add squash, and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until squash is fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

  4. Drain cooked squash. Transfer to a food processor or high-speed blender; process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. (Add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, only if needed to help squash blend.) Set aside.

  5. Add beef mixture and 2 cups of the water to pot; bring to a boil over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is just tender, 1 hour, 30 minutes to 1 hour, 45 minutes, adding up to 1 cup additional water, if needed, to keep meat covered. Adjust heat as needed to maintain a simmer.

  6. Stir squash puree into beef mixture in pot. Stir in potatoes, cabbage, onion, leek, turnips, carrots, celery, chile, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves, parsley sprig, thyme sprig, and remaining 5 cups water. Increase heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes; adjust heat as needed to maintain a simmer. Add rigatoni, butter, and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked, 10 to 12 minutes. Adjust thickness of soup as desired, by adding more liquid for a brothier texture, or continuing to simmer it so it thickens.

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