This Haitian squash soup is a classic dish served on New Year's Day to commemorate Haiti's independence from France on January 1, 1804. The soup is traditionally made with calabaza squash—a winter squash that is also called green pumpkin. If you can't find calabaza, you can use butternut squash. Traditionally, the soup is made with beef, but you can substitute goat meat if preferred. If you are plant-based, a flavorful vegetarian version can be made by adding the homemade epis seasoning to the soup mixture while the vegetables are cooking. If using meat, be sure to allow it to marinate overnight for full flavor. Read more about this recipe in Why I Follow My Mom's Tradition of Making Haitian Soup Joumou on New Year's Day., December 2020


Credit: Johane M. Filemon

Recipe Summary

45 mins
10 hrs 30 mins

Nutrition Profile:



Epis Marinade & Meat


Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare marinade and meat: In a blender or food processor, combine celery, garlic, habanero, scallion, onion, green, yellow and red bell peppers, parsley, lime juice, 2 tablespoons oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup water. Blend or process until mostly smooth, scraping down the blender or processor as needed, about 1 minute.

  • Place beef (or goat) in a small bowl. Squeeze sour orange (or lemon) over the meat. Add 1 cup water and stir to coat the meat. Drain off the liquid, then add 1 cup of the marinade to the meat; cover and refrigerate overnight. (Reserve remaining marinade for garnish.)

  • To prepare soup: Place the meat and marinade in a medium pot. Add 1 cup water; cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed, until the meat is tender but not falling apart, about 45 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, place squash in a large pot and add 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is fork tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Scoop out the squash with a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender (reserve the liquid). Add about ½ cup of the cooking liquid to the blender; blend until smooth. (Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to puree the squash in the pot. Use caution when blending hot liquids.) Set aside.

  • Add 4 cups water to the liquid in the pot. Add carrots, leek, cabbage, celery, onion, garlic, cilantro, thyme, parsley, cloves, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. (If going meatless, stir in 1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil.) Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Add the blended squash, along with the cooked meat and any remaining liquid, potatoes (or malanga), turnip and habanero, if using. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes (or malanga) are beginning to get tender, about 30 minutes.

  • Add pasta and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and some of the reserved epis, if desired. Serve with Haitian or French bread.


If you choose to add a habanero to the soup, add it whole and do not pierce it—releasing the seeds would cause the soup to be very spicy.

Soup joumou is traditionally made with two types of pasta: typically spaghetti is paired with either rigatoni or penne pasta. Feel free to use just one type or any combo you like.

Learn more about soup joumou.

Nutrition Facts

1 1/2 cups
227 calories; fat 5g; cholesterol 21mg; sodium 764mg; carbohydrates 38g; dietary fiber 7g; protein 11g; saturated fat 2g.