Sometimes, cooking is a dilemma. You check your fridge and your pantry, you see several ingredients that all look good, but you’re not sure if they’d go together well. I would never have thought of combining corn, beans and squash in a single dish until I came across Three Sisters Stew.
This, however, is not a stew. It is a soup — a modification of Three Sisters Stew which, according to The New York Times, was already a Thanksgiving dish even before hunting and serving fowl became a tradition.
The trinity of corn, beans and squash was central to the agriculture of the Plains Indians in what would later become Wyoming, and some cooks honor that history each Thanksgiving with a dish called Three Sisters stew.Three Sisters Stew in NYT Cooking
Well, that’s my kind of dish. This is nothing concocted in a gourmet kitchen where every ingredient is blemish-free. This is a dish that people cooked from what the land around them produced. There is no presentation required either. Just ladle into bowls and serve.
It starts with chopped onion softened in butter. Garlic is added and the two are cooked together, stirring often, until aromatic.
Kernels from a single ear of corn is added and tossed until every piece is glistening with butter. The cob from which the kernels were shaved is then added to the pot. Why? To squeeze out all the corn flavor from the cob.
Broth is poured in, salt and pepper are sprinkled in, the broth is allowed to reach boiling point then the heat is lowered, the pot is covered and the corn is simmered until the kernels are cooked through.
While the corn simmered, I browned sliced Andouille in a frying pan. Then, I set the browned sausages aside. This is where I made modifications. Three Sisters Stew has plain pork (at least, the recipe from the New York Times does); I opted for the more flavorful Andouille. Normally, the meat is cooked first, the vegetables are added and they all simmer together. But I have a daughter who doesn’t eat mammals so her share was not going to have sausages.
The cob from which all the beautiful corn flavors had been stripped off is removed and discarded. Cubed squash is stirred in and simmered for five minutes. And then I divided the contents of the pot.
I ladled about a quarter of the contents of the pot into a smaller one, added a quarter of the contents of a can of beans and left it to simmer just until the squash cubes softened and the beans were heated through.
Back to the large pot, the rest of the beans were stirred in and the browned Andouille, along with the rendered fat, was added. Everything simmered for about ten minutes — just long enough for the flavors of the sausages to intermingle with the corn, beans and squash.
A generous handful of sliced scallions were thrown in and the soup was ready to be served. We had it for a late lunch yesterday.
Sausage, corn, squash and bean soup
- Heat the butter in a pot and saute the chopped onion until a bit translucent.
- Add the garlic and continue sauteeing for a minute or two until aromatic.
- Stir in the corn kernels and drop in the cob.
- Pour in the broth.
- Sprinkle in salt and pepper (just a bit because you can always add more later, if needed).
- Bring to the boil, cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer until the corn kernels are done, about 20 minutes.
- While the corn cooks, heat another frying pan and brown the sliced Andouille. Set aside.
- Fish out the corn cob and discard.
- Add the squash cubes to the soup and simmer for five minutes.
- Taste the broth, add more salt and pepper, if needed, then dump the contents of the canned beans directly into the pot.
- Stir in the browned Andouille with the rendered fat.
- Simmer the soup for another ten minutes.
- Taste, adjust the seasonings, if needed.
- Stir in the sliced scallions and serve.