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A cooperative model that will warm your insides

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We’ve certainly arrived in prime soup season, something to keep us warm on a cold night. Hearty soups are especially welcome, and this Three Sisters Soup really fits the bill.

The name comes from the Indigenous people, specifically the Iroquois, reflecting the importance of the three principle ingredients: corn, squash and beans. In a traditional three sisters garden, corn, beans and squash are planted together to help each other grow strong. The first sister, beans, takes nitrogen from the air and uses it to keep the other sisters healthy. The next sister, corn, grows tall stalks that the beans can climb, holding the plants together. And the last sister, squash, grows big leaves that cover the ground, keeping weeds from growing and making the ground moist. The spiny squash also keeps away any animals that would eat the sisters.

Aside from providing enough food to take a Native family through the winter, the three sisters technique is a model of cooperation we can and should appreciate today.

This soup works well served piping hot and with a nice chunk of crusty bread. Enjoy, and stay warm.

Three Sisters Soup

  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • 1-1/2 cup corn kernels, frozen
  • 2 cans (2 x540 ml/19 oz) no salt added kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme (or 4 Tbsp. fresh)
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onions and sauté over medium heat, stirring often until golden, about 2 minutes.

Add carrot, garlic and celery and sauté for another 8 minutes, or until softened.

Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Turn down heat and add cubed squash. Simmer, covered, for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans, corn, thyme and pepper. Stir and simmer another few minutes, until squash is soft with a fork.

Serves 8.

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