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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC



Joumou, Haiti’s hearty squash soup, commemorates Haiti’s independence from French colonial rule, a national holiday on the first of January. It is so delicious and distinctive, it is recognized on UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage list as an unique world culinary treasure. Traditionally, joumou includes squash, root vegetables, aromatics, Haiti’s signature seasoning sauce, epis, along with beef and even cow feet. This sustainable and healthier interpretation

preserves joumou’s rich, satisfying flavors but ditches the meat, butter, and oil. Its texture is thick and creamy with sweet notes from calabaza, plaintain, and clove, tang from lime and vinegar,  herbaceous flavors from fresh thyme and parsley, earthy notes from the root vegetables, and as little or much pizzazz as you like from habanero or Scotch bonnet. Joumou is a beautifully complex marriage. To manage your time, prepare the squash, tofu, and epis marinade in advance.


Prep time 2 1/2  hours

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 8 to 10


2 16-ounce packages of soft tofu, drained

1 lime, juiced

1 ¼ cup epis

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 calabaza or large kabocha squash, peeled, boiled or baked, mashed

1 large yellow onion, peeled, cut in ¼-inch slices

2 large carrots, peeled or scrubbed, cut in ½-inch slices

2 large stalks celery, cut in ½-inch slices

1 leek, well cleaned, cut in ½-inch slices

8 to 9 cups water

3 russet potatoes, peeled, cut in a large dice

2 turnips, peeled, cut in a large dice

1 plantain (not overly ripe), peeled and cut in 1-inch slices

1 1/3 cups dry 100% whole grain short pasta

6 whole cloves, tied in cheesecloth

1 green habanero or Scotch bonnet chili, whole or for less heat, deseeded and cut in a fine dice

1 small green cabbage, torn in 2-inch pieces

1 medium bunch fresh thyme and 1 medium bunch fresh parsley, tied with string or thread

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

2 teaspoons granulated onion

½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

½ cup shiro miso paste, diluted with water


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Gently tear the soft tofu into rough, irregular pieces, about 1 inch by 1½ inch, and transfer to the pans, spaced apart. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the tofu is toasted on its edges and firm.
  3. Peel the tofu from the parchment taking care not to break it, and place in a bowl. Add the epis, lime juice and vinegar. Mix gently to cover all the tofu with the marinade. Set aside as you prep the other vegetables.
  4. To cook the squash, either bake it whole at 400°F for an hour or until it is easily pierced with a knife. Then peel and deseed it. Alternatively, peel the squash raw, cut into chunks and boil or steam until very tender, in about 15 minutes.
  5. Use a potato masher or food processor to mash the cooked squash. It should not be puréed smooth but retain some texture.
  6. In a medium saucepan bring 9 cups of water to a boil and maintain at a low simmer, covered.
  7. Heat a large soup pot over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, as the aromatics soften and lightly darken. If they begin to stick, lower the heat.
  8. Deglaze the pot with a few tablespoons of  boiling water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the caramelized sugars. Stir in the leeks and cook for a minute.
  9. Stir in the mashed squash and pour in about 7 cups of the simmering water into the soup pot, maintaining the rest, covered, at a very gentle simmer.
  10. Raise the heat to bring the pot’s liquid to a simmer, then add the cloves, potatoes and turnips. Cover, and maintain at a gentle simmer.
  11. When the potatoes are par cooked, about 10 minutes, add the tofu and epis marinade, and habanero or Scotch bonnet, plantain, and pasta, stirring them well.
  12. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the cabbage, tied parsley and thyme, granulated garlic and onion, and grinds of black pepper.
  13. The joumou will thicken as it cooks. If it has thickened into a stew, add a cup or more of the remaining simmering water. Joumou’s texture should be dense and creamy but more soup than stew.
  14. Cook for a final 10 minutes or so. The kitchen will fill with its intoxicating aroma. The soup is ready when all the vegetables and pasta are tender but intact.
  15. Taste to correct its seasonings. Joumou’s sweetness, acidity, and heat should be in balance. Salinity will come at plating.
  16. Serve joumou hot, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of diluted shiro miso to each bowlful, to taste.



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