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Three Sisters Stew

Reprinted with permission from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008).

Author Jackie Williams shared this incredible stew with me. This is an excellent dish for  chilly nights of winter. You can order Christmas Lima beans from
Rancho Gordo.

1 cup dried Christmas lima beans
*, soaked 6-8 hours
3 cups stock or water, divided
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or ghee
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dry oregano
˝ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
2-3 cups delicatta winter squash
, cut in chunks
1 14 -ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 ˝ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
Optional garnish:
˝ cup grated cheese

Drain soaking water off beans.  Place beans, 2 cups of stock or water and 1 teaspoon of cumin in a pot; bring to boil.  Cover and
simmer until beans are tender (50-60 minutes) or pressure-cook (45 minutes).

Heat a 4-quart pot, add oil.  Add onion, salt and garlic; sauté until onion is soft (5 minutes). Add cumin, oregano, and cinnamon and
chili powder and cook  for about 30 seconds. Add squash and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook until squash is soft, (about 20
minutes).  Add remaining ˝-1 cup stock or water if mixture is dry.  Add cooked beans and corn; simmer until corn is tender.  Adjust seasoning to
your taste.  Serve hot with grated cheese garnish if desired.

Preparation time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Makes 6-8 servings

FOR BABIES 6 MONTHS & OLDER: Reserve some peeled squash cubes, steam well and puree.
FOR BABIES 10 MONTHS & OLDER: Puree some cooked Christmas limas before adding to stew and puree with steamed squash cubes.  Serve beans in small amounts to babies.

* kidney, pink or pinto beans can also be used.


Erin Goodman
Looks yummy! I teach family yoga at our farmer's market in the summer and last year we had a great time creating a Three Sisters pose!
February 18, 2009, 6:57 pm

Cynthia Lair
DO tell what the Three Sisters yoga pose looked like!
February 19, 2009, 10:44 am

At the American Indian Center in Chicago is a very large mural of the Three Sisters in Tribal Hall. I shared your recipe for the stew version (which I have made) with the staff. From Seattle to Chicago and back: a great food connection. Thanks!
August 31, 2009, 8:29 am

Rebekah Kelly
HUGE hit at a Christmas party on Saturday! I used black eyed peas that I had previously soaked and had frozen. I used Butternut Squash and added red potatoes at the very end. THANK YOU FOR THE RECIPE AND ENCOURAGEMENT!!
December 7, 2009, 12:18 pm

Betty Chartier
This recipe looks so good! Can you make this in a slowcooker?
June 4, 2010, 9:36 pm

Cynthia Lair
Betty, Slowcooker should work fine though I haven't tried it. Pre-cook beans or wait until beans are tender before adding other ingredients.
June 5, 2010, 8:23 am

Betty Chartier
Thank you and I love your videos.
June 5, 2010, 2:12 pm

Kiki Hart
On July 7, 2007, we pulled off a potluck wedding with your Three Sisters recipe on center stage! I sent your recipe to a dozen friends who all made a triple batch, then brought it to our celebration! It was wonderful, and truly a community effort! (I think we also had fresh bread from a local bakery, blanched sugar snap peas, tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad, iced tea...) Thank you for your fantastic work; I use this cookbook more than any other, and Three Sisters remains one of our family's favorite meals.
June 11, 2010, 10:32 am

Melissa Taylor
This is a favorite at our house; however, we have renamed it three sisters and one brother stew. I have three daughters and a son, I told my son the brother is the fire-roasted tomatoes. Thanks for all the great recipes!
August 13, 2010, 8:32 pm

nina bean
can't wait to try it. How do I pick out a squash?
September 22, 2010, 11:14 am

nina bean
The flavors in this soup are amazing! Thank you so much. I will be making this again soon.
October 20, 2010, 4:13 am

Gary H.
Cool story about the three sisters, and a smart idea to let the beans climb up the corn stalk! And I agree about the cinnamon. Something you wouldnt expect to use but it makes a HUGE difference. Im making my infamous Sausage/chicken/bean soup this afternoon, and guess what my secret ingredient is; cinnamon! ;-)
October 12, 2011, 1:09 pm

Chrissy B
My beans keep burning in the pressure cooker! Not enough water I guess. I love this stew and we are so excited to use squash from our garden this year! We are going to devote part of our garden to the three sisters next year, can't wait!
October 14, 2011, 6:08 pm

Cynthia Lair
Chrissy, Burned beans are a bummer. Usually the heat is too high. The pressure comes up too fast and liquid is lost through steam. Then there is not enough water in the pot and the beans can burn.
October 15, 2011, 12:59 pm

lynn Redd
This iPad keybrd. Isn't easy. Lorna Sass is the author's name. And I meant baby Lima beans. I recommend her book for some great basics (cooking beans and whole grains)...and some great recipes....I can recommend a few other books, too.
October 16, 2011, 10:32 am

Lynn Redd
October 16, 2011, 10:44 am

Renee P.
I made this in the slow cooker last weekend and it was great! I used canned organic pinto beans (2 cans) and I just dumped everything into the pot, stirred, and cooked for a few hours until the squash was tender. It tasted GREAT with all the interesting seasonings. The only thing I would do different for the slow cooker next time is to cook the onions first - even after a few hours they were a bit too crunchy. Thanks for yet another fabulous recipe!
November 9, 2011, 2:13 pm

Audrey Butters
We tried this tonight and it was fantastic! So delicious and easy. Thank you for a great recipe!
January 8, 2012, 8:45 pm

Furiko Furiko
Hi Maureen! Thanks for the link to our site. Your ptohos are lovely the one with the apricots on the patterned plate is especially pretty. We look forward to trying out some of your recipes! Thanks for the support keep cooking! Cheers, Karlin & Jason
February 18, 2012, 6:55 pm

greg r
I cannot wait to try this stew recipe this weekend. There is three feet of snow on the ground and this sounds like a perfect meal
March 6, 2013, 12:40 pm

Christina O'Sullivan
I gave this stew recipe a try. The spouse said I could make it again, and the cat thought the broth was tremendous (I used half homemade chicken broth, half store-bought chicken soup base). I used yellow squash and 14 oz of crushed tomatoes (I had them on hand).
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