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|Alternative names||Soupe au giraumon|
|Place of origin||Haiti|
|Main ingredients||Squash, beef, potatoes, vegetables|
The soup is traditionally based on a large winter squash that resembles a pumpkin. The squash slices are simmered in a saucepan along with pieces of beef, potato, plantains and vegetables such as parsley, carrots, green cabbage, celery and onions. The pumpkin is then puréed, usually in a food processor, with water and the purée is returned to the saucepan, where salt and seasoning along with garlic and other herbs and spices are added. Thin pasta such as vermicelli and macaroni and a small amount of butter or oil is sometimes also put in. A small amount of lime is added before serving. The soup is always served hot and is usually accompanied with a sliced bread with which to dip in the soup.
Social connotations & celebration
Soup joumou has multiple social connotations for the Haitian people. The soup is dignified by its people as independence and resembles a greater revolution that liberated its population. On January 1, Haitians residing throughout all spheres the world celebrate the first successful slave rebellion that recentralized power into its slave majority, with this soup. A local street-food vendor in Haiti was interviewed about the significance of her job and the purpose of her people, she replied “Nou se revolisyonè, nou spran swen youn lot” or We are revolutionaries; we take care of each other. This is the essence of the Haitian revolution, to obtain self rule and sustain an autonomous system, where its people would be responsible for one another’s survival. Specifically, soup joumou was a food source for the French colonial masters on the plantations of Haiti. The meal was ideal for Haitian slaves who were restricted to rations and scraps of food left by their masters “leftovers like, like things like mayi moulen, cornmeal and those types of things. From a Haitian perspective, "it’s almost like the squash was more of a like, French people thing, like, the whites, that’s what they could eat. So the minute that they were able to gain their independence, they used that. They were like, “We will have soup joumou as a memory of that.”
Food security today in Haiti
Soup joumou is a source of nutrition for many Haitians and children. When the colony demanded its freedom and underwent a revolution so that its people could “take care of each other,” European allies and actors including President Jefferson’s administration restricted trade and enacted emargos on the newly founded colony in fear of echoing slave rebellions in their sovereign states. Today in Haiti, 3.8 million innocent Haitian citizens are “food insecure” on the backs of a revolution that allowed them to be independent, not persistent as citizens scream “t“vant’” mwen Pa Ka si pô te ankô” (“my stomach is tight, I cannot suffer anymore”). The means of achieving freedom or soup joumou figuratively, was not sufficient enough to sustain an entire population.
Understandably, the excess number of slaves transported to Haiti to accelerate the slave labor production of the world’s largest coffee and sugar producers, could not completely replicate the social and political structures present at their previous homes. However, the latter shipped slaves, much of whom were war captives sold as slaves, did acquire artistic and metallurgical skills as well as ideologies. The cultural retention of these slaves was present in their religious ideas, musical improvisation, culinary techniques, cooperation and linguistic accenture's. Slaves brought to the western hemisphere specifically living in Charleston, Memphis, New Orleans, Havana, Port-au Prince, and Kingston have been described as superstitious, religious, and spiritual with direct traces to its african diasporal roots. Slaves were observed to “fetishize "the dead" through traditions of family graveyards… faith healing… [and] root doctoring.” Much of this was retained in the culinary practices used to create combination of foods, compiled in soup joumou consumed in Haiti using the accessible pumpkin like squash that is the base for the soup and gumbo popularly consumed by southern slaves. Both are combination food, particularly practiced by African traditions. Peculiarly, in some Haitian households, the making of soup joumou includes the addition of an ingredient, okra. Okra or ochro’s name was taken from Central African Mbundu kingombo ‘ochro’ thus reinstitures the african reminiscence in the former slave colony.
After all of the slave labor that propelled the colony into being the world’s highest sugar and coffee producers by the end of the 18th century... it was still illegal for the slaves who prepared the food to taste the finished product of soup joumou. In turn, it is no coincidence that the nation takes tremendous pride in consuming the soup, that they were once forbidden of/from on the day of its independence. Haitian tradition holds that the soup was enjoyed by the slave masters on the former French colony, while the Haitian slaves were forbidden it. Consequently, Soup Joumou is traditionally consumed on New Year's Day (January 1), as a historical tribute to Haitian independence in 1804.
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