Michel Nischan | Three Sisters-Inspired Earth Day Stew

Eat the Change

This recipe is inspired by Three Sisters agriculture. Beginning at the headwaters of the Amazon, indigenous tribes learned that interplanting corn, beans, and hard squash allowed each plant to thrive with limited input from the hand of humans. Beans feed corn, hard squash feeds beans, and corn provides trellis support for both. This was a true miracle of nature. Because the three ingredients provided health and life, and tasted so delicious when combined in a dish, they were named the three sisters. Three sisters agriculture moved throughout North America by way of indigenous trade long before colonists arrived to the continent. Sustainable agriculture thrived long before being defined in a dictionary.

I often cook all of the ingredients from scratch, but use fully cooked posole (hominy is fine) and a good, store-bought organic butternut squash soup. I also added a garnet sweet potato because they are more available in spring than hard squashes like butternut.

Serves 8-10


2 tablespoons grape seed or olive oil
2 cups diced onions
1 pound garnet sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups chopped kale
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 additional tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 quart organic butternut squash soup, hot
3 cups cooked Heirloom Beans (such as cranberry, Indian woman, lima, or tiger's eye
3 cups cooked whole hominy or posole
1 tablespoon fresh oregano


Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and sweet potato. Stir well and place a lid on the soup pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until the onion and sweet potato softens and begins to brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring continually, for about 8 minutes longer, or until the garlic is lightly browned and softened.

Stir-in the two chili powders and cumin. Cover and cook about three minutes. Add the kale and and additional oil, then cook for about 3 minutes, or until the greens begin to wilt.

Add the soup, cooked beans, posole (or hominy) and opregano. Bring to a simmer to meld the flavors and check for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.

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