As Black History Month drew to a close volunteers from Renouveau LIH participated in a unique learning experience at Ecole Franco Niagara on Wednesday March 4th, 2020. Joining with Chef Mathieu Cyr and his team of culinary students they prepared Soup Joumou to serve to all the students and staff at the school as part of a special luncheon presentation.
As the student body gathered in the cafeteria to enjoy their meal Marcelin M. Wildy of Renouvea LIH explained the history and symbolism of this iconic dish.
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.
Haiti is the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also the first black republic and the only nation in the world established as the result of a slave revolt.
Previously called Saint-Domingue, the territory had been France’s most profitable colony, its plantation economy dependent on a brutal system of slave labor. After a 12 year fight for independence, Haitian slaves and gens de couleur libres—free people of color—defeated the French military and declared for themselves a republic. In celebration of their victory, Soup Joumou is now embraced by Haitians throughout the world as a symbol of their resilience and freedom.
Soup Joumou is a mildly spicy Beef and Pumpkin Soup prepared with beef, pumpkin (Canadian winter squash is a fine substitute), rutabaga, potato, radishes and vegetables such as parsley, carrots, green cabbage, celery and onions. The texture is similar to a traditional beef stew – it is the pumpkin puree that is blended into the soup that gives it the characteristic orange/yellow colour. A small amount of pasta is added near the end to thicken up the broth. Delicious!