Happy New Year! Bòn ane! And if you are in Haiti, Happy Independence Day! January 1st marks Haiti’s independence from France in 1804, as the culmination of the Haitian Revolution. This independence marked not only the end of French rule in Saint-Domingue (precursor to the modern state of Haiti), but also the end of slavery. On January 1st, to mark the sovereign nation of Haiti’s independence, it is traditional to eat Soup Joumou. Soup Joumou is made with calabaza squash, cabbage, potatoes, scotch bonnet peppers, pasta, and beef. So how did this soup become associated with independence? It is said that during the times of French rule, enslaved people were forbidden from eating this soup, however, once the country became free, this restriction was lifted. As a result, after independence, Soup Joumou became associated with freedom, in many senses of the word. The tradition of Soup Joumou lives on over two centuries later, and just a few weeks ago, the soup was given a protected cultural heritage status by UNESCO. The soup is also popular throughout the Haitian diaspora, and filmmaker Dudley Alexis made a documentary on Soup Joumou called “Liberty in a Soup” [trailer below]. Every family’s recipe is slightly different, so here are a few recipe versions from Epicurious, PBS and WLRN South Florida.