I really like old recipes that were very locally inspired. What choice did they have back then but to be local? It was a necessity not a fad.
One such recipe is the soup composed of the tres hermanas: squash, beans, and corn, the mainstays of Mexican diet and culture. That native diet works due to a delightful confluence of factors.
- The plants grow together well. The corn grows tall, providing a "pole" for the climbing bean vines, and slight shade for the creeping squash vines below. The beans' roots also provide nitrogen in the soil for the other two species.
- The vitamins and amino acids in the three products complement each other. Adding rice makes for an even healthier meal.
- The flavours and consistencies combine superbly in a single dish, or several dishes eaten together.
- The plants ripen around the same time - or can be stored easily until it all "lines up."
- All plants are indigenous: adapted to a long growing season and very hot, dry conditions.
To make Three Sisters Soup, bake a squash (cut in two and de-seeded) until it is nearly entirely cooked. Remove the skin off and cut into small pieces. In a medium pot, put the cubed squash, 2 cups of vegetable stock, herbs to taste, about a cup of corn kernels, and about a cup of small pre-cooked beans. (I prefer navy, cannelli, or baby lima.) Cook for about 20 min. on a moderate heat. Add a dollop of butter and stir in before serving. For a creamier soup, purée the squash before adding to the stock, and add a bit of organic milk or cream. Serve with a green salad and garlic bread - all locally sourced, of course!!Buen provecho!