In Haiti, Squash Soup or ‘Soupe Joumou’, is really a hearty stew of meat and squash that is traditionally eaten to celebrate the New Year. It is usually made with beef, but it is... just as good made with dark chicken meat, especially the thighs. The meat in this soup appears to be marinated twice. In much Caribbean cooking, meat is usually ‘washed’ in lime juice before cooking takes place, including marinating. This ‘washing’ gives extra taste but more importantly kills any bacteria on the surface of the meat. Smart when living in a hot climate. This Haitian Pumpkin Soup recipe uses Habanero peppers. Habanero peppers are lethally hot. Take care not to use too much. A tiny amount of cut habanero goes a very long way. Why use them? They have an incredible flavor as well as heat. The pierced whole habanero used at the end of this recipe is a great way to get the flavor without too much spice. Choose a pepper that is perfectly whole and sealed. Any more open, and it could make the stew way too spicy.
Marinate the chicken in the lime juice for 5 minutes or until the meat turns white. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Rub the meat with the marinade and let sit, covered, in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer you can leave the meat in the marinade, the better it is.
Put the chicken in a large stockpot with 3 cups of water, the quartered onion and 1 teaspoon of salt. Over a medium heat, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash, peel, and core the squash and cut into 1-inch chunks. In a stockpot cover the squash with cold water, bring to a boil then cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and puree the squash in the reserved cooking water.
Add the squash puree to the chicken. Bring to a boil again and add the celery, cabbage, carrots, turnips, potatoes and cloves. Cook uncovered until the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes. Adjust for salt and pepper.
Add the spaghettini and the whole habanero pepper and cook until the pasta is al dente. Let the soup rest for 5 minutes. Discard the habanero and the cloves and serve with lime wedges on the side.
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