Three Sisters Stew


This Three Sisters Stew recipe is easy to make, nutritious and delicious. The Three Sisters are corn, beans and squash, which have been planted together for centuries by Native peoples and have spiritual significance for some. In New Mexico, it is often said that a healthy environment means a healthy culture, which leads to healthy people, and the way these vegetables grow in the garden exemplifies this notion of interconnectedness. The beans climb the cornstalks, the squash leaves shade the soil, limiting weed growth, and the beans fix nitrogen into the soil as well as help stabilize the cornstalks. This stew is perfect for a cold winter day, and wonderful as an encore the next day if you have any leftovers. This recipe is part of our spotlight, There's a Movement to Revitalize Indigenous Cuisines and Knowledge—Here's Why That Matters.

a recipe photo of the Three Sisters Stew
Photo: Nate Lemuel
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
50 mins


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic

  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped

  • 3 medium zucchini, diced

  • 1 (28 ounce) can no-salt-added whole peeled or diced tomatoes

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans no-salt-added dark red kidney beans, rinsed

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed

  • 1 ½ cups corn kernels

  • 4 cups water

  • 3 tablespoons dried New Mexico red chile powder (see Tip) or other mild chile powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon dried Sonoran or Mexican oregano

  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

  • teaspoon ground pepper

  • Flat-leaf parsley and/or microgreens for garnish


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to caramelize, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes and their juice (if using whole tomatoes, break them up as you add them); cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture returns to a simmer, about 4 minutes.

  2. Stir in kidney beans, pinto beans, corn and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in chile powder, salt, oregano, thyme and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 20 minutes.

  3. Serve topped with parsley and/or microgreens, if desired.


New Mexican red chiles have moderate heat and rich flavor. Look for the chile powder in the specialty-spice section of large supermarkets or online at

To make ahead

Refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

166 Calories
3g Fat
30g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Serving Size 1 1/2 cups
Calories 166
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 9g 32%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 8g 16%
Total Fat 3g 4%
Vitamin A 378IU 8%
Vitamin C 33mg 37%
Folate 55mcg 14%
Vitamin K 2mcg 2%
Sodium 346mg 15%
Calcium 49mg 4%
Iron 1mg 6%
Magnesium 53mg 13%
Potassium 425mg 9%
Zinc 1mg 9%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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