Hard squash and beans are two components of what Native Americans and other proponents of Native American farming call Three Sisters’ agriculture. The third component is corn. When grown together, the three crops help each other flourish and represent one of the best examples of companion planting. Native cultures have cooked these foods, all of which are indigenous to the Western Hemisphere, for centuries. I celebrate the relationship between beans and hard squash in this simple soup and jazz them up with a little hot chile pepper, another integral part of Native American cooking.


Serves 6



2 pounds hard squash (such as buttercup, kabocha, red curry, butternut, or other heirloom squash) peeled, seeded, and cut into 1″ cubes

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 sweet onion, cut root to stem end into 1/4″-thick slices

6 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise

2 cups kale or other hearty winter green

1/2 small red Thai or jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely sliced

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade

3 cups cooked Dried Heirloom Beans (recipe on site) such as cranberry, Indian woman, lima, or tiger’s eye

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, marjoram, or sage



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Toss the squash cubes with 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large bowl.
  3. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  4. Spread the squash evenly on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, or until the squash is nearly tender when pierced with a fork.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  6. Add the butter. When it melts, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until the onion softens and begins to brown.
  7. Add the garlic and cook, stirring continually, for about 8 minutes longer, or until the garlic is lightly browned and softened.
  8. Add the kale and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the greens begin to wilt.
  9. Transfer two-thirds of the cooked squash to a large saucepan and add the chile pepper and stock
  10. Set the remaining squash cubes aside and cover to keep warm.
  11. Bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat, reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash is soft enough to puree. Adjust the heat to maintain the simmer.
  12. Transfer the squash and stock to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You will have to do this in batches. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree the soup directly in the pot.
  13. Return the blended soup to the pan and stir in the reserved squash cubes, onion, garlic, cooked beans, and kale.
  14. Stir in the oregano and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the flavors develop fully.
  15. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve.

Photo Courtesy of Andre Baranowski.  Baranowski is a NY based food photographer and was the principal photographer for Michel Nischan’s cookbook – Sustainably Delicious.