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Three Sisters soup

Three Sisters soup combines beans, corn and squash. Make ahead and freeze, from The Perfect Pantry.

Five years ago, I shared a version of this Native American Three Sisters Soup on my soup blog, and because I believe in the magic of the Three Sisters (beans, squash and corn, planted together in a mutually supportive ecosystem), I thought I'd freshen up the recipe and post it here. After all, who couldn't use some magic in their life? The power of this soup begins in the field: the beans climb onto the corn, and return nitrogen to the soil; the squash, nourished by the beans, provides shade to the shallow roots of the corn plants and keeps the weeds down. Native Americans believe that since these three foods protect each other while growing, they will protect whoever eats them together. The apple cider adds sweetness that a splash of cider vinegar balances nicely. If you're looking for a great make-ahead-and-freeze soup, put this one on your list. You never know when you'll need a little bit of magic.

Beans, corn and squash (The Three Sisters) make magic in this soup that's easy to freeze, from The Perfect Pantry.

Three Sisters soup {vegan, gluten-free}

From the pantry, you'll need: vegetable stock, onion, pinto beans, Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes, agave nectar, cumin, cider vinegar, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

Adapted from my own original recipe on Soup Chick. Serves 4; can be doubled.


1-1/2 cups apple cider
1-1/2 cup water or defatted vegetable stock
1/4 cup orange juice
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
4 cups canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper or mild red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 Tbsp agave nectar, or more to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper, or to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to defrost)
1 tsp cider vinegar


In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, add the cider, water or stock, orange juice, squash, onion and pinto beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

Stir in the Aleppo pepper, agave, and cumin.

Keep the soup at a high simmer over low heat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Then, add in the salt, pepper, corn and cider vinegar.

Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered, stirring frequently, until the soup has reduced and thickened to the consistency you like. (You can encourage some of the beans to break down by mashing them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon; the soup should be fairly thick.)

Serve hot, or let cool completely, pack into airtight containers, and refrigerate or freeze.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More pinto bean dishes:
Slow cooker chicken and pinto bean burrito bowl, from The Perfect Pantry
Bailout bean soup, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker vegan spicy pinto bean chili with corn and kale, from The Perfect Pantry
Pinto bean salad with avocado, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pressure cooker refried beans, from Copykat.com

Three sisters soup (beans, corn and squash), from The Perfect Pantry.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love the native American heritage of this soup, and it sounds delicious too!

Kalyn, this is really a soup that will cure anything. I love the story of the Three Sisters, too.

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