Are You Ready For Pumpkin Soup 2013?

New Year’s Day 2013 is but a blink away. It’s almost time to put that stockpot on a three-rock fire and make your best Independence Day pumpkin soup ever. Follow chef Nadege Fleurimond‘s winning recipe below, add family, friends, and create lasting memories. Don’t go crazy trying to make the perfect soup. You can’t please everyone; do your best, have fun, and keep on moving.

Super chef and grande dame of pumpkin soup, Elle Philippe, continues to raise the bar for preparation and presentation of this traditional soup. Read Haitian Times Editor Manolia Charlotin’s delicious article about Elle and Nadege.  (VoicesfromHaïti INNERviews will feature both Elle and Nadege soon. “Stay tuned,” as Elle likes to say. You won’t want to miss the stories which these talented and dedicated women have to tell).

If you’re not sure how to prepare this great soup, here are two phenomenal recipes. One from Chef Elle Philippe and another recipe  created by Chef Nadege Fleurimond.

Here is chef Elle Philippe’s recipe for Pumpkin Soup 

2 lbs of pumpkin squash–kaboucha, substitute: butternut squash and lots more good stuff Preparation time: marinate meat overnight, 45 minutes-prep time, cooking time-1 hr 30 minutes.



Marinate the meat the Night before
2 lbs of beef marinated overnight with
3 cloves of crushed garlic,
1 tsp of thyme
1 tsp of fresh black pepper
1 medium shallot
1/4 tsp scotch bonnet
3 scallions
juice of 2 lime
1 tbsp of kosher salt
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Ahead of Time:
Soup Stock:
beef leg bones: 2-3 lbs, cut into 2” pieces
1 onion
2 carrots

2 stalks of celery
parsley, salt, and pepper to taste

boil for 1 hour, add enough water for 12 cups of stock or substitute store-bought, sodium-free stock.

2 lbs of pumpkin squash–kaboucha, substitute: butternut squash
4 big carrots, medium slices
3 celery stalks, cut in medium cubes
2 medium leeks, cut lengthwise, in 2 pieces, halve or third the length
2 medium turnips, peel, cut in medium cubes
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut in medium cubes
1 lb cabbage, sliced & cut in med. sizes

12 cups of beef stock or store-bought sodium-free stock

2 tbsp of olive oil

1- Prepare your mise-en-place, clean, and peel all your vegetables.

2- In a large pot, add marinated beef with the olive oil,
add 2 cups of cold water, cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.

3- Cut squash into 3-4” wedges. While the meat is cooking in a medium pot in 6 cups of slightly salted cold water. cook pumpkin for about 30 minutes on medium heat, covered. Drain, remove pumpkin from peel, puree and set aside.

4- Check the meat to make sure the boiling water is not completely evaporated. Add all cut vegetables, (12 cups) beef stock, cook for 45 minutes.

5-Add pumpkin puree, simmer for 15 minutes.

courtesy of Tequila Minsky

Note: The soup broth should not be thick, after adding the joumou puree you can always add more beef stock.

6- Adjust seasoning, salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

7-Ready to serve.

For more information, contact Chef Elle

Here’s a nice article from Saveur by Tequila Minsky about ELLE Philippe’s Soup Joumou!


Here is Nadege Fleurimond’s recipe

Nadege Fleurimond writes: “You can’t cook [traditional Haitian food] without knowing how to make the foundation of [our] cuisine: EPIS.  Simply translated epis means spice. . . It is a building block for seasoning pretty much everything, except dessert . . . Here’s a basic recipe for epis:

4 small onions

12 scallions (remove root, white and green part is ok)
3 garlic bulbs
1 bunch of Parsley
3 cups Vegetable Oil
2 bunch of Basil
2 green peppers, 2 red peppers, 2 yellow peppers
6 boullion cubes (Now, we know this is controversial with the whole MSG issue. But this is a staple in [most] Haitian homes. . . Not everyone likes to use this. I don’t always either, especially when I cook for large groups. If you don’t want to use it simply omit; you can add salt to your taste).

Place all your ingredients in a blender and blend away. You can use water instead of oil, but oil serves as a better preservative for keeping your epis/spice in the refrigerator. If you plan to use your epis right away and are very health-conscious, go for water.

Once you have made your seasoning, you can start your soup. Traditional Haitian soup joumou calls for meat. . . I no longer eat meat myself, but that’s not the case for most Haitians. I will tell you non-meat eaters how to modify. But if you want to eat like a Haitian, carnivorous you must be.

Nadege’s Haitian Pumpkin Soup Recipe

1 lb. cubed beef stew meat

2 Pounds peeled seeded butternut squash or pumpkin

½ lb. cabbage
12 cups of water
2 small onion (diced)
3 medium potatoes
1 medium sized turnips (if you like turnips add another)
2 carrots peeled and cut into rounds (about 1/8 inch thick)
2 limes juiced
1 cup vermicelli, macaroni or other pasta
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of parsley
2 stalks celery
1 scotch bonnet pepper(we do not do jalepenos)
¾ teaspoon black Pepper
½ cup of oil
6 cloves

Clean the meat with hot water and wash with half the lime juice and set aside in a bowl. Add your epis (spice blend from above recipe) along with remaining lime juice and marinate for at least 2 hrs. If you didn’t add the bouillon cube or salt to your spice blend, now is the time to add it so it can seep into the meat.

In a separate pot, boil pumpkin in 6 cups of water until tender (about 30 minutes). Once pumpkin is tender, puree and set aside.

Heat a separate stockpot over high heat. Once pot is heated add ½ cup of oil, once oil is hot add seasoned meat. Keep fire high. Brown for about 5 minutes turning every minute or so. This is to get a nice intense flavor. Add about 3 cups of water to meat and let come to a boil over medium heat for about 30 minutes until meat is tender. When meat is tender and/or water is nearly dry, add pureed pumpkin, 3 more cups of water carrots, potatoes, turnips, celery, cabbage, thyme, parsley, cloves and whole scotch bonnet pepper and let simmer for another 30 minutes to 45 minutes until all ingredients are cooked and soft. Once that happens, Add pasta and let the pasta cook. Taste and add salt/pepper to taste. Remove the scotch bonnet pepper so it doesn’t burst, because it is HOT.

If a bit thick, add more water and if too thin, bring fire up a bit and allow to dry a bit. Turn off the heat and let cool. Serve in a medium size bowl sitting on a plate with pieces of bread on the side.

For those of you who want the flavors of Haiti but don’t want to dedicate the time and would prefer to do it without the meat, here’s what you do. Buy yourself a couple packages of butternut squash or plain cooked squash at the super market. Make your epis (as directed above). On high heat, bring a stockpot to temperature and add oil. Add your seasoning and let brown. Add your squash, then add water. Bring to a boil and add all the other ingredients stated above: potatoes, carrots, turnips, thyme, parsley, vermicelli, cloves. Let simmer and add salt and pepper to taste. This version will take you about 30 to 45 minutes and tastes just as good. Again the trick is that perfect blend of spices of onions, peppers, scallions, garlic, etc.

Happy Cooking!
Nadege Fleurimond

Check out this “pumpkin soup” video  posted exactly one year ago today. 

The World Ends Again And Again

Ask the mother whose child has died if it’s true that the world ended. Ask anyone who lost a family member last week. Last night. Today. Ask them if it’s true what they say about the end.

Ask this little girl in Haiti. She’ll tell you she doesn’t know anything about the end of any worlds.  She knows only that she exists. She knows also that her eyes have seen too much already. This patch of earth and all of its troubles make up her never-ending world.  Nothing to do but sing.

Standing in filthy water, she sings. Her clothes are ranyon shreds, yet she sings in that little voice that dares you to ignore the fact that she does exist. Not yet five, but this girlchild has many heartbreaking stories to tell.

Don’t you mind the mud, the decaying water-drum, the excrement; don’t mind the remains of lost and ancient things. Ignore the mounds of hopelessness. Hear her song. Hear the hope in that little voice. Hear how one so small transcends it all. For a while.

Sing along. Fast. A new world has just begun. Now isn’t the time to miss a single beat.

Watch the video before it goes away.


First Superstorm Sandy. Now Sandy Hook. We’re all in this together.

Tragedy doesn’t care which country you were born in; it doesn’t care where you live. Whether your home is a chateau or a tent, we’re all in this together.  Tragedy creeps into homes, and ravages them. Innocent bystanders become unsuspecting victims. Moms, dads, siblings are left behind to try and make sense of utterly senseless situations.  VoicesfromHaiti sends love and light to everyone touched by the inexplicable story that took place at an elementary school two days ago.

This profound article is written by LIZA LONG. We found it on the Net. LIZA LONG is raising a mentally ill son, and shares what most won’t. Please read.

Kenbe la!


“I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” Written by LIZA LONG,

Three days before 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7- and 9-year-old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30 a.m.-1:50 p.m. Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.

That was it. After the knife incident, I had told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—”Were there any difficulties with… at what age did your child… were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have…”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying—that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.

No one wants to send a 13-year-old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

Liza Long is an author, musician, and erstwhile classicist. She is also a single mother of four bright, loved children, one of whom has special needs. To read more from the Blue Review, click here.


Haïti for the Uninitiated ~ Written by Ibi Zoboi

There is a saying in Kreyòl: Sa w ap chache an, w ap jwen ni.  “This thing you are searching for, you will find.” These are not words of encouragement. This is a warning.  As in, if you go meddling in things you don’t understand, you will regret it. The wise comedian Kevin Hart put it best: “You gonna learn today!”  And if you try to refuse whatever it is you had looked for and found, you will be even more disappointed. Your find now belongs to you—good or evil. And you belong to it. Forever.

I use “uninitiated” here in every sense of the word. Call me a naïve dyaspora, going to Haiti for the second time of my adult life. I was blind to the spiritual ways of the world; I was a neophyte. What follows is the real-life tale of how I, this initiated, (an untrained vodouizan, so to speak), found just “what I was looking for.” CLICK THIS TO READ IBI’s recent Experience in Haïti.