Haitian households celebrate their country's Independence Day with bowls of this comforting soup. The national holiday falls on New Year's Day, when Haitians walk from house to house to pay friends and family the first visits of the New Year. Although this is a vegetarian version, add small cubes of browned beef stew meat along with the pumpkin, if you like.
- 2 pounds (1-inch) chunks seeded, peeled butternut squash or pumpkin (about 7 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers
- 10 whole cloves
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 2 turnips, peeled and cut into small chunks
- 1/2 small head green cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 pound vermicelli or capellini
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Put squash, 10 cups water, salt and pepper into a large pot. Stud peppers with cloves by pushing them halfway into the flesh, then add peppers to pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer peppers to a small bowl and set aside.
Working in batches, purée remaining contents of pot in a blender or food processor until smooth, taking care as it will be very hot. Return puréed squash mixture to the pot along with peppers. Add carrots, turnips, cabbage, nutmeg, lemon juice, salt and pepper, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in vermicelli and parsley, cover again and simmer gently until pasta is tender and soup is thickened, about 10 minutes more. Because the texture of squash and pumpkins can vary, thin the finished soup with a bit more water, if desired.