A Hispaniola-Inspired Halloween Soup

Author: Meera, October 31, 2015
Pumpkins are quintisenstially asociated with autumn

Pumpkins are quintessentially associated with autumn




My husband hails from the Dominican Republic, located on the east side of Hispaniola. Haiti occupies the west side of the Caribbean island. In the DR (as it is commonly called), Halloween today is celebrated much like it is in the United States. But it hasn’t always been that way.



Some who were born in the Caribbean do not celebrate Halloween, primarily because of religious convictions and a belief that Halloween has no roots in the history, cultural traditions, or even relevance to African-Caribbean folklore. But others have accepted the holiday and enjoy its fun-loving activities such as cavorting in costumes, consuming candy, and carving pumpkins.



As for superstitions in the DR, there are many. Did you know, for example, that a pregnant woman should not go to the ocean? I know, it seems a little strange since DR women live on an island surrounded by ocean. Another superstition is that a toddler who looks into a mirror will never speak (also strange since many youngsters in the DR today are educated as bilingual). There are witches spells, too. And ghosts and goblins abound. All part of the fun.



When my husband Carlos was growing up in the DR, Halloween wasn’t celebrated, however, Dominicanos did celebrate the Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos) with sugar skulls, festively painted. The holiday honored one’s loved ones who’d passed away and their ancestors.



At Sagrada, in Oakland, sugar skull mold, icing colors, meringue powder, and more can be purchased with directions for making those treats. See, https://www.facebook.com/SAGRADA-Sacred-Arts-121760811179202/timeline/




If you’re not into whipping up a batch of sugar skulls, how about a pumpkin soup? Rich and complex with Dominican flavors, it’s a dish my husband fondly recalls from the days around Halloween/Day of the Death during his childhood. A bowl of tasty, nourishing soup can fortify the entire family before they don their costumes and head out for a little Halloween fun.




Dominican Pumpkin Soup





2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin may be used or West Indian pumpkin, calabaza)

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 cups unsweetened canned coconut milk





Melt the butter in a large cooking pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until onions are golden brown.

Add pumpkin puree, chicken broth, allspice, and crushed red pepper.

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat.

Let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree the soup in a blender (do this in batches).

Return to pureed soup to the cooking pot.

Add the brown sugar and the coconut milk in batches of 1/2 cup each time until the desired consistency has been achieved.

Season with salt and pepper, according to taste. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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