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Harvest Time: The Three Sisters and Soup

Corn, Beans, Squash….. The three sisters are grown from the NE to the SE from the Plains to the SW and in the middle of the country.
“The term “Three Sisters” originated with the Haudenosaunee, “The People of the Longhouse”, also know as the Iroquois.” Native American Gardening: Stories, Projects and Recipes for families by Caduto and Bruchac, tells the history of the importance of these 3 Crops to the Native Americans of this land.

This book offers garden design ideas where the three seeds were placed in one hole each offering nutrients. Beans provided a climbing pole and all contributed to preservation of soil. Rich in nutrients these three were the staple items when winter descended. During November and December we gather and break bread, meet with our ‘tribe’, our families and enjoy our harvest. We gather squashes. We have probably put away corn and beans. Now the fun part begins enjoying these beautiful foods in so many ways, from toasting seeds, mashed squash and soups, bean dishes to corn bread hot from the oven topped with our fruit jams.

Recipe: Wonderful Stew warming and nourishing when winter peeks around the corner.

Three Sisters’ Stew
Courses: Soup, Vegetarian

Serves: 6 people

Recipe Ingredients
1 Sugar pumpkin – (about 2 lbs) (small) = (or 1 large butternut or carnival squash)
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 tablespoon Onion – chopped (medium)
2 Garlic cloves – minced
1/2 Green or red bell pepper – cut into short, (medium) narrow strips
1 Can diced tomatoes – (14 to 16 oz) – with liquid
2 cups 11 oz Cooked or canned pinto beans
2 cups  4.4 oz Corn kernels (from 2 large or 3 medium ears)
1 cup  Homemade or canned vegetable stock (or water)
1 Fresh hot chile – (to 2) – seeded, minced (small)
1 teaspoon Ground cumin
1 teaspoon 5 ml Dried oregano
Salt – to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper – to taste
3 tablespoons  Minced fresh cilantro – (to 4)

Recipe Instructions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and fibers. Cover with aluminum foil and place the halves, cut-side up, in a foil-lined shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife but still firm (if using squash, prepare the same way). When cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp, and cut into large cube like slices. Set aside until needed.
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and saute over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to saute until the onion is golden.
Add the pumpkin and all the remaining ingredients except the last 2 and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
If time allows, let the stew stand for 1 to 2 hours before serving, then heat through as needed. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. The stew should be thick and very moist but not soupy; add additional stock or water if needed. Serve in shallow bowls.

In Native American mythology, squash, corn, and beans are known as of the “three sisters.” These are the very crops, along with garden vegetables, that the harvest festival of Thanksgiving is meant to celebrate!”

We get to say thanks for our families and our blessings tomorrow. Enjoy the holiday. Judith

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