“Three Sisters” Soup Spans Seasons
As summer merges into fall, the bounty on the tables at Saratoga Farmers’ Market market provides for pleasing combinations of both seasons’ flavors. Late summer’s tomatoes continue in full force, while fall crops like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts start to sneak in here and there.
A traditional trio in upstate New York’s Iroquois agriculture, the “three sisters” of corn, squash, and beans flourished when cultivated together. There are many Native American stories centered around this combination.
The synergies between the plants helped all of them to thrive. The corn stalks provided a tall structure on which the beans could grow. The beans provided nitrogen in the soil that aided the corn.
Squash plants, with their large leaves close to the ground, gave shade for the corn plants’ shallow roots, retained moisture by shielding the dirt from the sun, and kept the weeds away by serving as a ground cover. Together, these three plants supported each other, and in turn, they nurtured the people who consumed them.
At the market at this time of year, fresh corn, green beans, and summer squash still arrive from the farms, harkening back to summer, while winter squash makes its colorful debut.
This trio of vegetables form a delicious and nutritious foundation for many dishes: soups, salads, and casseroles and other hearty entrees. Recipes are popular using both fresh green beans as well as dried beans, and both summer squash as well as winter squash. You can substitute as needed based on what you have available.
The contrasting texture, shapes, and colors of the vegetables provide visual appeal, while the different nutritional profiles of the Three Sisters combine to offer many important nutrients.
Three Sisters Soup
*Ingredients can be purchased at the market
2 cups corn* kernels, cut off the cob
2 cups fresh green beans*, trimmed and cut into small pieces
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash*
1 large carrot*, diced
1 stalk celery*, chopped
1 cooking onion*, chopped
1 clove garlic*, chopped
1 cup diced, peeled potatoes*
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp. thyme
fresh ground pepper
Place the corn, green beans, squash, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and potatoes into a pot, and pour in broth, and add bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
Blend flour into the melted butter, then stir into the soup. Increase heat to medium, add thyme, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until soup thickens.
Season to taste with pepper, and serve.