For over one hundred years, the French controlled Haiti, taking advantage of the many natural resources and growing conditions the land had to offer. In order to farm massive amounts of sugar, coffee, cotton and indigo on their plantations, the French imported nearly one million slaves from Africa. Today a major percentage of Haiti’s population traces their ancestry to the African slaves.
The French plantation owners treated the slaves terribly, offering them only the minimum of what they needed to survive. While the slaves dined on a thin bread soup, the plantation owners enjoyed a rich and hearty pumpkin soup. In fact, the slaves were forbidden to eat the soup because it was considered too fancy for the simple people.
After more than one hundred years, the people of Haiti were fed up with the French. They began fighting back in 1791 and after a long battle won their independence! What was one of the first things they did following their victory? They celebrated by eating pumpkin soup! To this day, pumpkin soup is served in millions of homes every year on January 1 as a reminder of Haitian independence.
2 pounds fresh pumpkin (2 cups mashed)
10 cups water, plus more if needed
1 13.5-ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper
10 whole cloves
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 small head green cabbage, cored and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 pound macaroni
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, add the pumpkin and water, stirring until it reaches an even consistency.
Press cloves halfway into the flesh of the pepper, then add to pumpkin mixture.
Add carrots, turnips, cabbage, nutmeg, lime juice, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in macaroni, parsley and coconut milk, cover again and simmer gently until pasta is tender and soup is thickened, about 10 minutes more. Add more water to thin the soup if you find it too thick.
Be creative with your presentation. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of crushed pistachios or whatever else you like.
Nicholas Beatty is a children’s book author working primarily in multicultural stories. He loves folktales, local legends and history. He finds his inspiration when he travels around the world, and his passion is in sharing those stories with others.