Chef Wilson Calixte shares the recipe, the history attached to it and his journey to the United States.
Soup Joumou is not Russian caviar or Japanese Wagyu meat that would cost you an arm and a leg or a week’s budget to prepare. It is just a pumpkin soup that has one ingredient that you will hardly find anywhere else in the world — history.
Haiti is the first country in the world to abolish slavery and to be founded by former slaves, in 1793 and 1804 respectively.
Back then, slaves prepared the pumpkin soup for their French owners but were not allowed to eat it. And how did former slaves celebrate freedom? They prepared Soup Joumou, otherwise known as Freedom Soup on January 1, the Independence Day. To add more flavor, the recipe calls for yet another unique and staple ingredient of Haitian cuisine — pikliz, a vegetable relish.
Chef Wilson Calixte, a native of Haiti, showcases the recipe with a passion that only matches his larger-than-life personality.
Calixte arrived in Brooklyn, New York in 1990 and later moved to Omaha, Nebraska where he lives with his wife and three children and does what he loves to do — cook. Calixte is the chef at Le Voltaire French Restaurant in Omaha.
31 years in the United States have not tapered chef Calixte’s love for his homecountry. As he puts it, “Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, but people always smile …” and drink rum and play dominoes. After over three decades in the country, Wilson Calixte is a brand new naturalized citizen of the United States of America.
Chef Wilson Calixte is living the American dream.
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RECIPE: SOUP JOUMOU (FREEDOM/PUMPKING SOUP) | HAITI
Serving size: 4 – 6 people
- White vinegar 1 cup for cleaning meat and 1 tablespoon for cooking
- 1 lb. beef cut into 1″ cubes
- 1/2 cup Epis Seasoning Base
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 small cabbage, chopped
- 1 carrot, quartered and sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large potato, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 leek, white part only, sliced lengthwise
- 1 parsnip, chopped
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- 1 butternut squash, 1″ cubed
- 1 acorn squash, 1″ cubed
- 1 green Scotch bonnet or habanero chili
- 1/2 cups pasta
- 2 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 parsley sprig
- 1 thyme sprig
Clean the meat with 1 cup of vinegar and then rinse it with water. In a deep bowl mix Epis Seasoning Base, lime juice and seasoned salt. Add meat to the bowl and toss it well. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. Prepare the meat the night before for better results.
In a large stockpot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add bouillon cube and meat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until meat has soften, about one hour. Add pasta, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic and onion powder, cloves, black pepper.
Add cabbage, carrots, onion, potatoes, leak, celery, and parsnip to the mix.
Cook squash separately by boiling it in water until fork tender and then use a blender to blend it. Or you can throw squash in the stockpot and boil until tender, then scoop it out, blend and return it to the pot.
Stir in thyme, parsley, vinegar. Taste for salt and pepper and sprinkle accordingly. Add 2-3 cups of water if need be, bring to a boil, and let it simmer for another 40 minutes or until pasta and meat are tender. Serve with bread and lots of pikliz. Enjoy!
Note: This recipe takes about three hours to prepare and cook. You can cook it up to three days in advance. Also, you can replace Epis Seasoning Base by mixing green onion, white onion, parsley, thyme, green or red bell pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic, cloves, basil, olive oil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and vinegar in a blender. Blend it until the mixture looks like pesto in consistency, not liquified.
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