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Three Sisters Corn Chowder

To the Native Americans, the important crops: corn, squash, and beans, were known together as the “three sisters.” They were planted together: the corn provided a pole for the beans, and squash provided ground cover to prevent weeds. This hearty soup recipe combines the three sisters into a thick, sweet chowder.
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels (or kernels from 2-3 fresh ears)
  • 3 cups diced delicata or butternut squash (14" cubes)
  • 1 can light-colored beans (great northern, navy, or pinto)
  • 1 cup diced yellow bell pepper (1 medium to large pepper)
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)
  • 2 cups yellow, white, or Spanish onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 teaspoon chipotle powder (or 14 teaspoon each cayenne and smoked paprika)
  • 2-3 tbs. minced garlic
  • 4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 14 cup masa harina (corn flour, not cornstarch or cornmeal)
  • 12 to 1 cup half-and-half or cream (optional)
  • 12 cup cream sherry (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Minced chives, scallions, cilantro, and or bacon, for garnish
Heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, chipotle powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 12 tsp. black pepper. Sauté until translucent (a few minutes). Add garlic and squash cubes and sauté until softened, 15-20 minutes. Add beans and heat through.

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups stock and bay leaf to a boil in a small saucepan. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk remaining cup of stock with masa harina until completely smooth. While stock is boiling, slowly added the stock & masa harina mixture to the pot while whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer half of the cooked vegetables to a blender or food processor and add half the vegetable stock. Puree until completely smooth (2-3 minutes). Add remaining stock and blend until incorporated. Return mixture to pot with remaining vegetables.

Add corn and bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Add sherry and half-and-half just before serving and taste for seasoning adjustments; add salt and pepper if needed. Serve in mugs or bowls and garnish as desired.

Three Sisters Crab Chowder (variation)

Use seafood stock in place of vegetable stock, and add 1 pound of crab meat before the final simmer. If desired, season with Old Bay.

Three Sisters Chicken Chowder (variation)

Use chicken stock in place of vegetable stock. A 1 pound cooked diced chicken meat before the final simmer.