Recipe: Three Sisters Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

In most Native American traditions, beans, corn, and squash are known as the Three Sisters – gifts from nature to sustain life. Full of complementary proteins, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, this hearty soup is perfect for those crisp early Fall evenings.

You could substitute a peeled and diced winter squash such as acorn or butternut for the zucchini during the winter months.

Three Sisters Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

The Soup

¼ cup canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced fine
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup cooked lima beans
1 cup cooked dark red kidney beans
1 medium zucchini, diced
6 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot (test by splashing a drop of water into the pan – if it sizzles, it is hot enough). Add the diced onions and peppers and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until just softened.

One at a time, stir in the corn, green beans, lima beans, kidney beans, and zucchini. Add the vegetable broth and spices and stir well to combine. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower heat to medium or medium-low, cover, and simmer for at least 15 minutes while you make the dumplings.

The Dumplings

1 cup yellow cornmeal
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 eggs
½ cup 1% milk (substitute soy, rice, or nutmilk here if you prefer)
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons soup broth
½ cup cooked dark red kidney beans

Sliced green onions (optional)

In a large mixing bowl stir together the cornmeal, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Make a well in the center of the bowl in which to pour the liquid ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and oil. Pour into the well in the center of the dry ingredients, add 3 tablespoons of soup broth and the kidney beans, and stir until just combined to form a lumpy batter. Add more flour if the batter is too soft (it will not hold together in the soup if it is too thin).

Uncover the soup and stir. Carefully drop the batter by rounded tablespoons full into the soup. You should end up with about 20 dumplings.

Re-cover the soup and continue simmering for another 15-20 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls, making sure each bowl gets 2 dumplings, and top with sliced green onions.

Yield: 10 servings

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