In Haiti, “soupe joumou,” also called “freedom soup,” is a hearty stew of meat and squash that is traditionally eaten on January 1st to celebrate Haiti’s independence from France. It is usually made with... beef, but it is just as tasty when made with dark chicken meat. As in much Caribbean cooking, the meat is “washed” in lime juice before marinating and cooking. “Washing” in lime juice boosts taste and kills bacteria on the surface of the meat — smart when living in a hot climate. A little goes a long way with habaneros, and the pierced whole habanero used at the end of this recipe is a great way to get the flavor without too much heat. Choose a pepper that is perfectly whole and sealed. Any more open, and it could make the stew way too spicy.
Marinate the chicken in the lime juice for 5 minutes or until the meat turns white. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. (Make sure to follow food-safe practices and disinfect surfaces after washing and handling the meat.) Rub the meat with the marinade and let sit, covered, in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer you can leave the meat in the marinade, the better it is.
Put the chicken in a large stockpot with 3 cups of water, the quartered onion and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash, peel, and core the squash and cut into 1-inch chunks. In a stockpot cover the squash with cold water, bring to a boil, then cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and puree the squash with the reserved cooking water.
Add the squash puree to the chicken. Bring to a boil again and add the celery, cabbage, carrots, turnips, potatoes and cloves. Cook uncovered until the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes. Adjust for salt and pepper.
Add the spaghettini and the whole habanero pepper and cook until the pasta is al dente. Let the soup rest for 5 minutes. Discard the habanero and the cloves. Serve with lime wedges on the side.