In Haiti, Squash Soup or ‘Soupe Joumou’, is a really a hearty stew of meat and squash that is traditionally eaten to celebrate the New Year. It is usually made with beef, but it is just as good made with the dark chicken meat, especially the thighs. The meat in this soup appears to be marinated twice. Let me explain: in much Caribbean cooking, meat is usually ‘washed’ in lime juice before cooking takes place, including marinating. This ‘washing’ gives extra taste but more importantly kills any bacteria on the surface of the meat. Smart when you live in a hot climate.
If you haven’t used them before, this Haitian Pumpkin Soup recipe will introduce you to Habanero peppers. Habanero peppers are lethally hot. Take care not to use too much. A tiny amount of cut habanero goes a very long way. Why use them? They have an incredible flavor as well as heat. The pierced whole habanero used at the end of this recipe is a great way to get the flavor without too much spice. Choose a pepper that is perfectly whole and sealed until you prick it. Any more open, and it could make the stew way too spicy.
- Mix the marinade ingredients together. Set aside.
- Marinate the chicken in the lime juice for 5 minutes or until the meat turns white. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. 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. Over a medium heat, bring to a simmer, 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 in the reserved cooking water.
- Add the squash puree to the chicken. Bring to a boil again and add the 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 and serve with lime wedges on the side.
- 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs
- Juice of 1 lime
- 10 cups water
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 small cubanelle pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1-2 thin slices habanero, or 1 thinly sliced jalapeno pepper
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 pounds kabocha or butternut squash
- 10 cabbage, leaves quartered
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 medium turnips, washed quartered
- 2 medium potatoes, washed quartered
- 4 to 6 cloves
- ½ cup whole wheat spaghettini or cappellini, broken into pieces
- 1 whole habanero pepper, pricked twice with a toothpick
- Lime wedges, for garnish (optional)