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Three Sisters' Stew
Native Americans referred to squash, corn, and beans as the "three sisters." These are the crops, along with garden vegetables, that the harvest festival of Thanksgiving celebrates.
1 small sugar pumpkin or 1 large butternut or carnival squash (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium green or red bell pepper, cut into short, narrow strips
14- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 cups cooked or canned pinto beans
2 cups corn kernels (from 2 large or 3 medium ears)
1 cup homemade or canned vegetable stock, or water
1 or 2 small fresh hot chiles, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the pumpkin or squash 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 dice. Set aside until needed.
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté 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.