Three Sisters Soup
Corn, beans and squash come together with spinach, garlic and onions to make a complete meal-in-a-pot.
This recipe was first created for our Thanksgiving-based Time Warp Cooking class. Corn, beans and squash are considered by many native people to be female spirits, and are traditionally planted together to help each other flourish.
3/4 cups dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked over
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, salted
2 cups diced winter squash (about 3/4-inch to 1-inch cubes)
1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into large chunks
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped or torn spinach leaves
1 Tablespoon chives
1. Combine the beans and broth in a large soup pot or Dutch oven on the stove. Discard any beans that float.
2. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. As the broth comes to a boil and you see steam escaping from underneath the lid, turn the heat to medium-low, give the beans a stir and cover with the lid askew. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
The combination of corn and beans in this dish make for a complete one-dish meal. Use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian/vegan.
3. While the beans simmer, confirm the oven rack is in the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees. While the oven heats, combine the squash, onion, garlic cloves and olive oil in a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix everything together to evenly combine.
4. Spread the squash mixture onto a large baking sheet. Don't crowd the squash mixture - you'll want it to brown and firm up in the oven, rather than just steam and soften. Roast for 30 minutes, or until squash is carmelized and easily pierced with a fork.
5. When squash is done, find the two garlic cloves and set them aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the softened roasted garlic bulbs out of their skins and into a small bowl. Add a large spoonful of cooking liquid from the beans and mash the garlic with a fork into a liquidy paste. Add this paste to the soup pot with the beans.
6. When the beans have simmered for an hour, use a spoon to scoop a few out of the pot and test them to see if they are done by tasting them or blowing on them. When they are done, their skin will peel back when you blow on them. (Older beans may take a bit longer to cook.) When you've decided the beans are done, add the roasted squash mixture to the beans and stir gently to combine.
7. Add the corn, spinach and chives to the soup and stir to combine. Put the lid on askew and allow the soup to come to a gentle simmer while the flavors come together.
8. When the soup is simmering nicely, taste it. If it seems a little bland, you may need to add a pinch more salt, pepper or both. If it seems too thick or too salty (unlikely), add a little water. When it tastes fantastic, you're done!
9. Your Three Sisters Soup is ready! Enjoy with some crusty French bread, and take a moment to say a silent thank you for all the wise women who have made your life a little more delicious.