Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (2024)

Three Sisters Soup is a delicious harvest soup made with the nourishing trio of corn, squash, and beans. This authentic Native American soup is a family favorite!

Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (1)

three sisters soup celebrates the fall harvest

The three sisters refers to the combination of corn, beans, and squash, as well as to a native American companion planting technique that paired the three crops together for better productivity, and sustainable land use. The three foods have been staples in the diets of many tribes (from the Iroquois in the North, the Chickasaw in the South, and the Hopi and Navajo Nations in the Southwest) over the centuries, and this soup is a celebration of that magical trio. The whole family will love this hearty healthy soup, and it provides a great story and learning op as well!

Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (2)

meet the three sisters

These three crops not only support each other as they grow, they have been critically important foods to Native Americans, and are particularly nourishing. In three sisters soup corn, beans and squash are a complete nutritional package with carbohydrates from the corn, protein from the beans (they provide the missing amino acids in the corn) and essential vitamins and minerals from the squash.

  1. CORN ~ the tall corn provides support for the beans vines to grow on.
  2. BEANS ~ add nitrogen into the soil to fertilize the corn and squash. These can be fresh or dried beans.
  3. SQUASH ~ this refers to both winter and summer squash, both of which are low to the ground crops which provide shade to keep the ground moist and prevent weeds.
Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (3)

ingredients for three sisters soup

There is no one authentic recipe for this soup ~ it can be made, and is made, in a variety of ways, with different combinations of ‘sisters’. Recipes have been passed down through generations in tribes, and have become more modernized in the process. My version uses chicken broth and fire roasted tomatoes for a flavorful broth, potatoes for their satisfaction factor, jalapeño and chipotle powder for a little kick of heat, and black eyed peas because I love them. FYI tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are all indigenous crops, native to the Americas.

  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • onion
  • chicken broth ~ or veggie broth
  • fire roasted tomatoes, canned
  • red potatoes ~ sweet potatoes would also be nice
  • zucchini and/or summer squash
  • corn ~ while you could use frozen, I would urge you to slice the kernels off fresh ears, it really makes a difference
  • black-eyed peas ~ either canned or dried
  • jalapeño ~ makes things pop
  • chipotle powder adds a nice smokey heat
  • bay leaf ~ I never make soup without it
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper
Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (4)

change things up!

As I’ve made it, three sisters soup is a wonderful late summer harvest meal, but oh my gosh there are so many ways to vary it.

  • USE WINTER SQUASH Bring it into fall and winter by subbing out the summer squash for winter squash. There are SO many varieties to choose from, from pumpkin and butternut to to some of the lesser known types like kabocha. You can even blend canned pumpkin into the soup stock.
  • EXPLORE DIFFERENT BEANS When you use winter squash, black beans are an obvious choice, but you could also use pinto or kidney beans.
  • USE FRESH BEANS If you’re not into dried or canned legumes, use fresh green or waxed beans.
  • Try HOMINY instead of sweet corn.
  • ADD CHILES Either canned or fresh, chiles will enhance this soup. Go for mild or spicy. Hatch chiles are a great choice in fall.
  • THICKEN THE SOUP Consider adding some masa harina toward the end of cooking, it will give your soup body and a lovely corn flavor. You can also take an immersion blender and blend just a portion of the soup to thicken it up.
  • ADD ANIMAL PROTEIN It’s not traditional but you could definitely add some shredded chicken or sausage (chorizo would be nice.)
  • ADD CHEESE Again, not traditional, but I sometimes add a shower of queso, Parm, or other aged cheese.
  • MAKE THREE SISTERS SOUP VEGAN Switch out the chicken stock with water or vegetable stock.
Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (5)

if you love this three sisters soup I bet you’ll also love

  • The Best Stuffed Pepper Soup
  • Creamy Wild Rice Soup
  • Mushroom Barley Soup
  • Italian White Bean Soup with Sausage Meatballs
  • Broccoli Stilton Soup
  • Mushroom and Brie Soup
  • German Potato Soup (Kartoffelsuppe) with Bratwurst

“My girl scout troop made this for our Native American Heritage patch festivities. Now I make it a couple times a month. I am not a big cumin or chipotle fan so I replace it with poblano chile diced up and cooked in. This has become a family staple. Love it.”

~ cynthia

Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (6)

Three Sisters Soup

4.84 from 24 votes

Three Sisters Soup is a delicious harvest soup made with the nourishing trio of corn, squash, and beans. This classic Native American soup recipe is a family favorite!

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Prep Time:15 minutes minutes

Cook Time:25 minutes minutes

Total Time:40 minutes minutes

Servings: 10 servings


  • A large soup pot or Dutch oven


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb red potatoes, diced (no need to peel)
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 28 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (leave out for less heat)
  • 1 zucchini, diced (do not peel)
  • 1 summer squash, diced (do not peel)
  • 3 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 2 cups cooked black-eyed peas

garnish (optional)


  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven and add the diced onion. Saute for five minutes, stirring often, until the onion starts to soften. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two longer.

    Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (7)

  • Add the potatoes, chipotle powder, cumin, and bay leaves to the pot and cook a couple of more minutes, stirring almost constantly.

    Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (8)

  • Add the broth and tomatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the jalapeños, if using, at this point too. Bring to a boil.

    Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (9)

  • Lower the heat and simmer just until the potatoes are just tender, about 8-12 minutes. You can cover the pot if you like, but make sure you're cooking at a simmer, not a full boil.

    Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (10)

  • Add the zucchini, summer squash, corn and beans, and bring the soup back to a bubble. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add more chipotle or cumin at this point if you like. Cover and let the soup simmer for just a few minutes. You just want to take the raw edge off your veggies. When they taste just barely tender, the soup is finished. Add water if your soup seems too thick.

    Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (11)

  • Serve the soup topped with fresh parsley, and a sprinkle of cheese, if you like.

    Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (12)

NEW FEATURE! Click here to add your own private notes.

Course: Soup

Cuisine: Native American

Author: Sue Moran

Keyword: Native American, soup


Calories: 162 kcal · Carbohydrates: 28 g · Protein: 7 g · Fat: 4 g · Saturated Fat: 1 g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g · Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g · Trans Fat: 1 g · Sodium: 456 mg · Potassium: 805 mg · Fiber: 6 g · Sugar: 8 g · Vitamin A: 371 IU · Vitamin C: 27 mg · Calcium: 56 mg · Iron: 3 mg

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although The View from Great Island attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (13)
Three Sisters Soup • Native American recipe! (2024)


What combination of Native American cooking ingredients does the three sisters refer to? ›

The Iroquois and the Cherokee called corn, bean, and squash the three sisters' because they nurture each other like family when planted together. These agriculturalists placed corn in small hills planting beans around them and interspersing squash throughout of the field.

What are the three sisters in Native American cooking? ›

The Three Sisters is a vegetable medley of corn, squash and beans that are planted together so each plant can support and nourish each other. Corn, beans and squash have provided nutrition for the Chickasaw people for generations.

How do you make the three sisters? ›

There are many variations on the 3 sisters garden, but the most traditional layout is something like this: several corn kernels planted in a circle, beans planted close to the corn, and then the squash planted in a wider circle around the inner plantings.

What is Three Sisters soup made of? ›

Three Sisters Soup is a delicious harvest soup made with the nourishing trio of corn, squash, and beans. This classic Native American soup recipe is a family favorite! Three Sisters Soup is a delicious harvest soup made with the nourishing trio of corn, squash, and beans.

What kind of beans for Three Sisters? ›

In modern-day gardens, the Three Sisters consists of these three vegetables:
  • Pole beans (not bush beans). Common pole beans such as Scarlet Runner or Italian Snap should work. ...
  • Corn such as sweet corn, dent corn, popcorn, or a combination. ...
  • Small-leafed squash such as summer squash (zucchini) or winter squash (Hubbard).
4 days ago

What is the three sister diet? ›

The big secret of the Nicoyan diet was the 'three sisters' of Meso-American agriculture: beans, corn and squash. Those three staples, plus papayas, yams, bananas and peach palms (a small Central American oval fruit high in vitamins A and C), are what fuel the region's elders over the century. ⁠

What is the history of three sister soup? ›

The Story of 3 Sisters Soup

There is an Iroquois legend about the three sisters who were very different but who relied on each other to grow: A three sisters garden, where the beans grow up the corn, the corn supports the beans, and the squash covers the ground.

Where did the three sisters soup come from? ›

The Three Sisters Soup recipe is a traditional Native American recipe from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nation. The term “Three Sisters” refers to the three main crops of some North American tribes: maize (corn), squash, and beans.

What is the story of the Three Sisters? ›

The three sisters were said to have fallen in love with three brothers from the neighbouring Nepean tribe. However, marriage to the three brothers was forbidden by local tribal law. Unhappy with this outcome, the three Nepean brothers decided to capture the three sisters and take them back to their tribe for marriage.

What makes the Three Sisters special? ›

What makes the landmark iconic is the strangeness of its beauty that's mystifying, and charming. Visitors to the place easily recognise the sandstone formation. Millions of tourists, both local and international visitors, come to see the iconic Three Sisters to have a unique Blue Mountains tours experience.

What makes the Three Sisters unique? ›

The Three Sisters is essentially an unusual rock formation representing three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone. The character of the Three Sisters changes throughout the day and throughout the seasons as the sunlight brings out the magnificent colours.

Why are the Three Sisters so special? ›

The Three Sisters play an important part in Aboriginal history and, according to legend, were once three beautiful sisters called Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo. The sisters fell in love with three brothers in the neighbouring tribe– something that was forbidden under tribal law.

What soup did the Cherokee eat? ›

Kanuchi (Cherokee: Ku-nu-che (ᎦᎾᏥ ga-na-tsi)) is a hickory nut soup eaten originally by the Cherokee people and which consists primarily of ground hickory nuts boiled in water.

What soup do they eat in the witches? ›

'Today there is green-pea soup to start with, and for the main course you have a choice of either grilled fillet of sole or roast lamb. '

What was Julia Child's favorite soup? ›

Soup was one of Julia Child's favorite things to eat, and reportedly, her absolute favorite was vichyssoise. Leek and potato soup, known as potage parmentier in French, is a classic base soup recipe. What sets vichyssoise apart is the addition of cream—and the fact that it is traditionally served chilled.

What are the three traditional Native American foods? ›

The essential staple foods of the Indigenous peoples of the Eastern Woodlands have traditionally been corn (also known as maize), beans, and squash, known as "The Three Sisters" because they were planted interdependently: the beans grew up the tall stalks of the corn, while the squash spread out at the base of the ...

What are the Three Sisters in the context of Native American history refers to? ›

The Three Sisters (Spanish: tres hermanas) are the three main agricultural crops of various indigenous peoples of Central and North America: squash, maize ("corn"), and climbing beans (typically tepary beans or common beans).

What are indigenous American ingredients? ›

Indigenous Ingredients
  • Corn. A member of the “Three Sisters Garden” along with squash and beans, corn is commonly referred to as Maize and was domesticated more than 8000 years ago and now has around 250 varieties. ...
  • Bison. ...
  • Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) ...
  • Sumac. ...
  • Amaranth. ...
  • Piñon. ...
  • Squash. ...
  • Sage.

What are the Three Sisters staple ingredients of southwestern cuisine? ›

Three ingredients are the historical basis for all Southwestern cuisine: Corn, beans, and squash, collectively known as the “three sisters,” were the staples of North American agriculture perhaps as early as 7000 B.C.E.

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