Soup is on: kabocha squash congee (Joumou soup with rice)
We are kicking off the Fall with a series of soups that should remind you of the good times in Haiti. Be open minded because none of the soups will be exactly like you have made it in the past. I tend to go for recipes that are easy to make and do not take a lot of time. I cannot beat Grandma’s cooking. Grandma can afford to spend her entire day perfecting her meals but I cannot. I know my limits. I barely have 30 minutes every day to prepare a meal if I want to be able to eat it and clean up the kitchen.
When I was growing up in Haiti, I complained about eating rice every day. Some days, rice was served for all 3 meals; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yes, my great aunt Tantann (RIP), would make rice soup in the morning, rice with beans for lunch, and rice pudding at night. There was no lack of recipes with rice.
When I started traveling to China, I realized the same love for rice between Haitians and Chinese when I discovered congee. Congee is a rice porridge very popular in Asia. Regardless of the hotel I stayed in, congee was always part of breakfast. Even the airlines on my way back from China would always serve it. Congee can be served plain or with other ingredients like kabocha squash. Kabocha is the Japanese name for joumou, Caribbean pumpkin, or Calabaza.
In this recipe, we add our Kabocha powder to the rice and water (vegetable or non-vegetable broth), cook it for 30 to 40 minutes or until the rice is very tender. Then, we add our favorite spices. The recipe is very simple. You can add vegetables like spinach or carrots.
I have had the Haitian version of congee or rice soup many times in Haiti for breakfast. With the temperature dropping down, adding soup back to the weekly menu is warm and comforting.