Three Sisters Soup (Beans, Corn and Squash Soup) with Crock Pot Option Recipe

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7 votes | 28592 views

“Three Sisters” refers to the three main crops of Native Americans: beans, corn and squash. The crops are planted close together and in this way benefit from one another. Corn stalks provide the structure for beans to climb, beans provide nitrogen to the soil that other plants need, and the squash spreads along the ground blocking the sunlight and in so doing, helps prevent weeds. Now that you’ve had your agricultural lesson for the day, consider this popular southwestern soup recipe. I often add Italian sausage to this for additional heartiness, but the recipe also converts easily to vegetarian and to crock pot cooking.

Prep time:
Cook time:
Servings: 8


Cost per serving $1.09 view details
  • 1/2 pound dried pinto beans (or take the easy way out and use 2 cups canned pinto beans (one 16 oz can)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic minced
  • 6 cups low fat chicken broth (or substitute water for vegetarian)
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup yellow squash peeled and chopped (I used butternut, pumpkin would work too)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup cilantro snipped for garnish/topping (optional)


  1. If using dried beans, soak overnight in cold water or boil for a few minutes and then let stand for an hour. Rinse and drain beans then add enough water to cover plus 2" and cook until done, about 45-60 minutes. (If using canned beans wait to add them til final few minutes of soup cooking.)
  2. MEANWHILE: Melt butter in 4-1/2 quart soup pot over medium low heat. Stir in onions and cook for 2 minutes; add garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Add broth and celery. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, squash, tomatoes and potato. Simmer for 30 more minutes (vegetables should be fairly tender.)
  3. Stir in undrained pinto beans, frozen corn kernels, tomato paste, oregano, salt, black and red pepper flakes. Cook 5-8 minutes until corn is cooked and soup is “piping hot”. Serve with snipped cilantro, about 1 tablespoon per bowl (optional.)
  5. (Notes: Use canned beans instead of dried. Slow cookers vary considerably so these times can only be approximate.)
  6. In a 4 quart (or larger) crock pot, add butter, onion, garlic, chicken broth and celery. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 hours. Add carrots, squash, tomato and potato and cook 1 1/2 more hours; vegetables should be mostly tender. Add undrained canned beans, corn, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and black and red pepper flakes. Turn cooker to HIGH and cook 15 or more minutes or til vegetables are tender and soup hot. Serve with optional cilantro garnish/topping.
  7. Yield: 3 quarts (or 12 cups which serves 8 people generously.)


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Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving %DV
Serving Size 315g
Recipe makes 8 servings
Calories 179  
Calories from Fat 19 11%
Total Fat 2.22g 3%
Saturated Fat 1.09g 4%
Trans Fat 0.0g  
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 471mg 20%
Potassium 883mg 25%
Total Carbs 31.03g 8%
Dietary Fiber 7.3g 24%
Sugars 3.34g 2%
Protein 9.65g 15%
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  • Amos Miller
    This is a wonderful, healthy & very attractive (even festive) dish! Wouldn't change a thing. Thanks, SF!
    I've cooked/tasted this recipe!
    • A.L. Wiebe
      This is a beautiful looking soup, SF! I too am happy to see the slow cooker option...since I just bought a new one and am trying to use it for everything I can lol!
      • Amy
        Oh my, this was soooooo good. I used as much as I could from my garden. Instead of plain oregano I used a Mexican spice blend. And instead of crushed red pepper, I picked a fresh red jalapeno to slit open and let sit in the hot soup until serving. What a wonderful array of flavors; the butternut gave it an awesome taste. Years ago I'd used zucchini but you really need a hearty winter squash.
        My fresh, hot homemade Honey Oat Bread was the perfect compliment. I'll be making this again now that I've re aquainted myself with the recipe.
        I've cooked/tasted this recipe!
        This is a variation
        • Frosted Flaker
          This tasted wonderful; I loved both the varied healthy ingredients and also the varied vibrant colors. If possible and you have it available, a homemade bread is an awesome compliment to this healthy, tasty soup.
          I've cooked/tasted this recipe!


          • ShaleeDP
            August 15, 2014
            This looks good. I like to try it.
            • Salad Foodie
              October 10, 2012
              Thanks for your review, Amy, and I appreciated your seasoning ideas. How about posting your homemade Honey Oat Bread recipe?
              • judee
                January 23, 2012
                What a hearty soup, and I love the crock pot option!
                • Trish Cowper
                  January 16, 2012
                  looks yummy and easy! love the slow cooker option.

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