A Soup Joumou Church Dinner: A Delicious Way to Help Haiti Replant and Renew

December 16, 2010


[Ed. note: This article is part of our weekly series of church activities, called Cultivating Community, published on Thursdays.]

The new year is coming up, and with it, Haiti’s independence day on January 1. This has been a brutal year for Haiti, a country close to our heart at Flourish as Flourish president Rusty Pritchard and his wife Joanna have spent time doing environmental assessment and re-development in Haiti since the earthquake that occurred at the very start of 2010.

An earthquake, a hurricane, a cholera epidemic, and political violence have all plagued Haiti this year. Deforested land has exacerbated the damage caused by these difficulties. (image courtesy Plant With Purpose)

The following activity is one that we have suggested before, but that we think is appropriate to share with you again given the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti and the recent post-election violence the country has experienced. Read Rusty’s reflection on how deforestation and suffering watersheds are at the root of many of Haiti’s difficulties, and then take another look at having a dinner of Soup Joumou as a church to raise funds to help Haiti replant and renew.

Many have forgotten about Haiti, in spite of its continuing troubles, but there is a creative, conscientious, and community-building way that your church can continue to help. It’s as simple as breaking bread together.

Soup Joumou, the meal with which Haitians mark their independence day each January 1, is as much a national emblem as it

Soup Joumou!

is a hearty meal in Haiti. Made with seasonal winter ingredients like pumpkins and turnips, it was the meal with which Haitians celebrated their independence from France in 1804, as a show of defiance toward the French, who had not allowed their Haitian slaves to eat soup. Today, sharing a meal of Soup Joumou is a celebration of solidarity and community—an appropriate meal and sentiment for your church to participate in as Haiti recovers and rebuilds from this year’s disaster.

Hosting a Church Fundraising Dinner for Haiti
For a small fee, welcome your church community to partake in a little soup-slurping for the sake of Haiti’s recovery. Church fundraising dinners are a great way to foster community, share healthy food, and support a cause. And although the simplicity of such an event is already quite gentle on the earth, consider further reducing the waste the event produces by inviting church members to bring their own mugs for drinking the beverages offered, or even for eating their soup!

1. Choose a date, location, and time for the fundraising dinner

  • If there is a customary time for your church to hold dinners or celebrations, plan your dinner for that time. A Sunday afternoon post-church may be your best option.

2. Determine an appropriate entry fee

  • One of your goals is to raise money to be sent to responsible relief and development organizations in Haiti, so set an entry price for the dinner at a rate that is high enough to benefit an organization, but low enough so as not to be prohibitive to church members who may not have the means to give much.
  • Welcome people to make a larger donation if they so desire, but also consider requesting donations on a sliding-scale, so that everyone can participate.

3. Find an appropriate recipient for the funds

  • Certainly we are all aware of the potential for organizations to misuse funds provided to them. Choose an organization from InterAction’s list of responsible organizations working in Haiti to ensure that the funds you raise will actually be used to benefit Haiti’s rebuilding. InterAction’s list includes several faith-based agencies, including World Relief and World Vision.
  • Flourish’s friend Plant With Purpose has done sustainable development and discipleship-building in Haiti since 1997. The reforestation, sustainable agricultural training, microcredit lending, and marketing assistance Plant With Purpose does throughout Haiti on a consistent basis strengthens land, communities, and economies so that even if future disasters occur, Haitians and their land will be able to recover quickly. It is a cause worth donating to in order to provide for Haiti’s long-term health as a nation.

4. Advertise the event

  • Get the word out in church services and through your church’s communications materials.
  • Be sure to clarify the purpose of the event and the cost: Be transparent about what organization the funds will go to and how much will be requested at the door.
  • Decide ahead of time if this event will be open only to your church or to the larger community. Advertise accordingly.
  • Establish a system for accepting RSVPs in order to approximate the amount of soup you’ll need to make.

5. Get cooking!

Good for much more than just Halloween carving.

The recipe for Soup Joumou:

Time: 2¼ hours | 10 min prep

SERVES: 4 (Increase ingredient amounts and cooking time as necessary)


  • 1 lb corned beef or beef stew meat
  • water
  • 1 1/2 lbs pumpkin, peeled & diced (substitute 2 – 2 ½ cups canned pumpkin, if desired)
  • 2 turnips, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup rice, washed (uncooked, not instant)
  • salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2-4 teaspoons butter
  1. In a saucepan, cover beef generously with water and boil over medium low heat, partially covered, for 1 hour.
  2. Drain and chop beef into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil; add pumpkin, turnips, beef, onions, parsley, thyme, and 2 cloves garlic.
  4. Simmer until pumpkin is tender (15 minutes).
  5. Discard parsley and thyme.
  6. Transfer pumpkin to food processor with 1/4 cup stock and puree.
  7. Return to saucepan and heat through.
  8. Add milk, nutmeg, butter, and rice; cook until rice is tender (15-20 minutes).
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix in remaining garlic.
  10. Serve hot with a little butter in each bowl.

6. Enjoy!

  • As part of your prayer before the meal, lift up the people of Haiti and the work of the organization you’ll be supporting. Pray also for Haiti’s persistent needs in the areas of poverty, deforestation, and susceptibility to natural disaster.
  • During the meal, you may want to take a little time to explain the purpose of and spirit behind the meal, and to describe a little of Haiti’s history, as well as the work of the organization to which the funds will be sent.

*7. Waste not, want not!

  • If using fresh pumpkin for the soup, don’t throw those seeds away! Bake them using the following recipe, and either sprinkle them on top of the soup, or snack on them at a later point:


  • pumpkin seeds
  • cooking oil (1 tablespoon per cup of seeds)
  • salt (1/2 – 1 teaspoon per cup of seeds)

1. In a bowl, toss seeds with vegetable oil and salt.
2. Spread on a cookie sheet, and bake at 250F until dry.
3. Yum!

Related Posts at Flourish
Haiti in the Time of Cholera: A Letter from Port-au-Prince
The Real Truth About Haiti and What Your Church Can Do Now and in the Future

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dave Wilkinson March 2, 2011 at 10:14 am

Amazing stuff. I’m working with friends in the north of Haiti who are doing amazing terracing and planting projects as erosion control and food source. We were there in June and the terraces were unreal. I’m sure you’re well on your way with your projects, but if you ever need some contacts in country who are doing some great stuff, let me know!

Thanks for all you do!
Oh, I love Soup Joumou. This is a great idea for a community meal.

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