Chef Viaud highlights his family’s culture through authentic Haitian cuisine.
Chris Viaud, a James Beard Award semifinalist and “Top Chef” competitor, is on a mission to share his Haitian heritage with the world through the universal language of food. Inspired by his time on “Top Chef”, where he whipped up Haitian food for the judges, the chef and restauranteur decided to start incorporating the delicious cuisine he grew up eating into his menus.
In early 2021, Viaud opened a new restaurant: Ansanm, which means “together” in Haitian Creole in Milford, New Hampshire. The business is run by his entire family. Each month, the Viauds host an Ansanm Sunday Dinner, which is a ticketed event where the local community and visitors passing through have a chance to join the family for an intimate, seated meal. Milford is a small, New England town and probably the last place you'd expect to find a hotspot for authentic Haitian cuisine. Introducing and educating a new community about his culture is truly an honor for Viaud who has a "desire to understand more about the food of my ancestors."
In addition to Ansanm, Viaud owns Greenleaf, a farm-to-table American style restaurant, that features dishes sourced from local farms. Focusing primarily on elevating seasonal products, Chef Viaud’s food is rustic in its approach, yet refined, by classic techniques. He has begun to add Haitian-inspired dishes to the Greenleaf menu as well, starting with a Djon Djon Risotto dish, a modern version of traditional Haitian black mushroom rice.
In honor of Haitian Heritage Month celebrated during the month of May, Viaud shares on his favorite family recipes for Soup Joumou, a dish that is enjoyed on Haitian Independence Day.
Soup Joumou: Haitian Squash Soup Recipe
** This soup can be made as a vegetarian dish if desired or beef stew meat can be added.
Yields 8 Servings, 2 cups per serving
1 ½ pounds of beef stew meat (optional)
2 tbsp oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 stalks of celery, diced
About 2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled then chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 cup of leeks
2 large carrots, peeled then cut into small pieces
2 golden potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces sliced thin
½ of a head of green cabbage
1 turnip, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
2 stems of parsley
4 sprigs of thyme
6-8 cups of vegetable broth (can also use chicken or beef broth)
Juice of 1 lime
½ pound of rigatoni
2 tbsp of butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
Cooking twine (to wrap the parsley & thyme together)
Add the broth and squash to a large pot and bring to a boil.
Cook until squash is soft.
In a separate pot, cook the rigatoni al dente (do not cook all the way through).
Make a bouquet with the parsley and thyme, tied with the cooking twine.
While squash is cooking, in a different large pot, add oil and allow to get hot.
Add the meat and brown on all sides (add seasonings of choice).
Let cook for about 10 minutes.
Remove meat from pot and set aside, leaving oil in the pot.
**note, if not using meat, add oil to pot, and skip to step 4.
Add onions, garlic, and leeks to hot oil and let cook until soft and golden brown.
Add the celery next, stirring frequently.
Add carrots and stir.
Add the cooked squash to a blender or food processor and puree the squash.
Do not discard the water in which the squash was boiled (you’ll be using that water in the next steps).
Add the pureed squash to onion/leek/carrots mixture.
Add in reserved liquid from the squash to “thin” out the soup to your liking. (This soup can range from thin to very thick so add in the liquid accordingly). If too thick add more of the reserved liquid or some more broth.
Bring to a boil.
Add in the potatoes, turnip, and parsley bouquet.
Let cook for 6-8 minutes, then add in the cabbage.
Cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
Add in the cooked meat, then stir (if not adding in meat, skip to adding the pasta).
Add in the cooked pasta and lime juice, then stir.
Let simmer for another 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add butter, then stir.