My first visit to Haiti was not long after the January 2010 earthquake. The inconceivable loss of hundreds of thousands of precious lives and the destruction of buildings and infrastructure was difficult to witness. Through my work, I’ve had the pleasure (and privilege) of traveling to Haiti many times since, and I’ve witnessed this incredible country rebuild. The Haitian people’s resilience is awe-inspiring. Their warmth and kindness permeates the culture. Their pride in their country is enviable.
Each time I go I can immediately see what has changed since my last visit. There is so much goodness in Haiti. The country is teeming with life. Everywhere you look there is rebirth. Solar powered street lights line the streets of Port-au-Prince. There are beautiful public parks with lush green plants and gym equipment. The tent cities are nearly gone. There’s a new brightly colored football stadium. New government buildings are going up. And my office–The Development Office of the Episcopal Church–has secured a multi-million dollar gift to rebuild the only Haitian school for handicapped children. You never hear the good news. I suppose it’s not as interesting as the corruption.
On my most recent trip I spent a long post-work weekend in the coastal town of Moulin Sur Mer with a good friend. We ate lobster and fried plantains and their Sunday specialty, Soup Joumou. We drank pina coladas, Prestige beer, and coconut water right from the coconut. While the weather dropped into the single digits back home, we were sunning ourselves with our feet in the sand and taking day-long hikes. Why don’t people come to this cool place? I believe many don’t know this part of Haiti exists. While doing social media on the trip, I started a new hashtag: #ThisIsHaiti, which I’m hoping might encourage just one person to head down there and see the beauty of this country for themselves.
Makes about 3 quarts
This recipe was adapted from Saveur
2 garlic cloves
2 scallions, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 scotch bonnet chile, stemmed and seeded
Juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for serving
Salt and ground black pepper
1 pound beef chuck, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablepoons olive oil
2 quarts beef broth or stock
2 carrots, cut into medium dice
2 celery stalks, cut into medium dice
1 large onion, cut into medium dice
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into medium dice
½ small green cabbage, cored and cut into medium dice
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch dice
Puree garlic, scallions, parsley, thyme, chile, lime juice, a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup water in a blender until smooth; mix with beef in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Remove beef from marinade and dry with paper towels; set aside. Heat oil in a large soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook, turning as needed, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, turnips, and cabbage; return to a simmer and continue to cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring squash and 1 quart of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid and transfer squash and liquid to a blender; puree until smooth and set aside. When vegetables are tender, uncover, and stir in reserved squash puree; cook, stirring occasionally, until soup is slightly thick, 5 to 10 minutes longer; season generously with salt and pepper. Serve with extra scallions and lime wedges.