In celebration of Haitian Independence Day on January 1st, we chatted with model and home cook Enga Domingue. She reminisced about learning to cook in Haiti with her grandmother and great aunt and also shared her recipe for a hearty, nurturing, vegan version of soup joumou that we can’t wait to share with you.
How do you celebrate Haitian Independence Day?
I celebrate by honoring those who came before me. Whether that is through acts of acknowledgment or learning more about my lineage, I try to intentionally create some space for reflection. And, of course I indulge in my favorite Haitian comfort foods.
What kinds of foods make you think of Haitian Independence Day?
In Haiti, no matter where you are on January 1st, you are eating soup joumou. It is a thick, heavy soup filled with rich ingredients. Eating it on the 1st of the year is like manifesting an abundant year filled with nurturing surprises with every bite. Pre-pandemic, I usually spent my New Year's in Haiti, with my mom on the beach enjoying some soup joumou.
Is there anything about the holiday you wish people understood better?
Haiti is a very powerful, energetically charged country. Haitian Independence Day created a huge shift that empowered many peoples to seek out and fight for their rightful freedoms. Without the acts of strength, resilience, and bravery of those that came before us, life as we know it today would not be the same.
What is your food heritage?
My food heritage is 100% Haitian…I learned to cook from watching meals being prepared in Haiti by my grandmother and great aunt, but also from going to the fruit and vegetable markets in Haiti and talking with the women there. No matter what is happening in the country, food brings us together.
What spices, herbs or recipes remind you of home?
Cloves hit different. It can be risky to work with because if you use even a pinch too much they can ruin the dish and kill other flavors. It’s such an arrogant spice but we use so much of it in our traditional dishes. It makes all the difference.
What makes a Place Ours?
When we come together and put our creative spirit and love into a meal, then warm up the atmosphere with laughter, conversation, authenticity, and share in that — that is what makes a place ours. Cooking and sharing a meal with my chosen family is the best part of my life. It keeps me sane.
We’re ready for some soup joumou!
Enga’s Vegan Soup Joumou
YOU NEED1 thyme sprig
1 parsley sprig
2 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp. vegan butter
2-3 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp. cumin
1/2 tbsp. paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper (optional)
1 32 oz. carton vegetable broth
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 seasonal squash of your choosing, cubed
1 medium calabaza squash, peeled and cut into 2 in. chunks (substitute: butternut squash puree)
3 large russet potatoes, cubed
4 carrots, chopped into thick slices
1/2 small green cabbage, sliced
2 bunches leeks, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1/2 box dried rigatoni pasta
Pinch ground cloves
Haitian Epis seasoning (Enga’s is a mix of cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar, parsley, garlic, cloves, green onion, basil, and olive oil)
1. Add olive oil and garlic to your Perfect Pot over medium heat. Once that comes to a simmer, add in the squash, russet potato, and cabbage. Season with salt, onion powder, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and Scotch Bonnet pepper (if using).
2. Once the vegetables begin to simmer and absorb color from the spices, add 1 cup of vegetable broth and 1 cup of water to the mixture and stir.
3. When squash and potatoes are softened, stir/mash in the mixture to create the base of the soup. It should have a medium thick consistency for now.
4. Add leeks, celery, and carrots. Allow the mixture to cook in the soup for 10 minutes.
5. Stir in more broth and water as needed to create the consistency and amount of soup you desire. Add in Epis seasoning and more spices and salt to taste, as well as cloves, thyme and parsley — these aromatic herbs and spices will give the soup it’s final notes.
6. Add the rigatoni pasta to the soup and bring to a boil. Decrease heat to low and cook for a few more minutes. When the pasta has cooked completely, remove and discard the herb branches (and Scotch Bonnet peppers, if using), and give the soup a final stir.
7. Ladle into Side Bowls, garnish with more parsley, et voilà! Bon appetit 🙂
Note: Since we’re taking out the legendary beef portion of this recipe, we’ll be overcompensating on the veggies to give the soup a bit more texture and depth (the cabbage, squash, and potatoes become the “meat” of the soup). Seasoning and cutting the veggies in thicker chunks and adding in some extra cabbage will do the trick.