Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Three Sisters Soup

I am taking a Native American Indian class this semester for an ethnic studies graduation requirement. When the professor announced the second assignment was going to be about food, she had my full attention. It was a tough choice deciding if I should research the history of corn cultivation or get into the kitchen and cook, not! The goal of the assignment was to use indigenous ingredients that would have been available and used by the Native Americans of Wisconsin. I decide to go with soup because I have never made soup before and have always wanted too.

The story behind this soup is that squash, beans and corn grow cooperatively. Corn uses nitrogen from the soil and beans replenish nitrogen to the soil. The squash keeps down weeds and prevents erosion. It was a very sustainable method, allowing for replanting of the same plot year after year. I added wild rice to the soup to add texture and flavor, but wild rice was widely available in Wisconsin at the time.

I did not have high expectations for flavor, but I was totally shocked by how delicious it was. Part of the assignment was to cook the food for friends.  I made it for my dad during the Packer game and he loved it and it is not just because I am his daughter. He is not afraid to be critical (can you say overly critical?), and for not being a big soup person he loved this. There were only a few ingredients added that would not have been available at the time, but something similar was probably used to enhance the flavor the way contemporary ingredients do. It was very easy and quick, and it was even better the next day. This would make for a great meal at the beginning of the week, making leftovers for later in the week. 

3/4 cup wild rice (the real deal, not Uncle Ben's)
1 medium squash
1- 19oz can red kidney beans
1 cup frozen corn
4 cups water
4 teaspoons vegetable bullion
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter


  1. Cook rice according to package instructions.
  2. Peel and cut the squash into 1 inch cubes. Drain and rinse beans.
  3. Add the squash, beans, corn and bay leaf into a heavy bottomed medium pot. Cover with water and add the vegetable bullion. Turn heat onto high and bring to a boil. Add the flour, butter and pepper. Boil for 5 minutes and reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. 
  4. Add the cooked wild rice, stir to combine and serve.

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