A robust vegan fall harvest stew, this recipe makes good use of the “three sisters” crops of Native American tradition — squash, corn, and beans. Serve this as a warming, filling everyday cool-weather dish; it’s also an excellent Thanksgiving main dish or first course.
This stew is very much like a robust vegan chili, with the addition of squash. Keep it easy by using precut fresh butternut squash, widely available in the cooler months in the produce department of well-stocked supermarkets. Of course, you can substitute another winter squash, such as acorn, if you prefer.
If you want to prep your own from a whole butternuts squash, get some tips in How to Cut Butternut Squash Easily.
In Native American mythology, the three sisters are also the daughters of the Earth Mother. These three crop were the foundation of the Indigenous American agriculture, and were also central to the first Thanksgiving feasts. As we all know, any cozy stories about the early days of dealings between Native peoples and the new settlers are sugarcoated, to say the least, but that’s a story for another source to tell.
This hearty stew is delicious served with Vegan Jalapeño Cornbread or Cheesy Vegan Corn Muffins with Fresh Herbs. Adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas. Photos of Fall Harvest Stew by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 16-ounce package fresh precut butternut squash
- 1 medium green or red bell pepper, cut into short, narrow strips
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (try fire-roasted)
- Two 15-ounce cans pinto, red, or black beans, drained and rinsed (3 cups cooked)
- 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
- 1 or 2 small fresh hot chile peppers, seeded and minced,
- 1 tablespoon good-quality mild chili powder
- 1 tablespoon barbecue seasoning blend (like smoky maple), optional
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
- Add all the remaining ingredients except for the salt and pepper and cilantro and bring to a slow boil. Lower the heat, then simmer gently, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Check the water level from time to time. It should be thick and stew-like, not soupy, but if need be add a small amount of extra water for the ingredients to simmer in and not get dry.
- Season with salt and pepper. If time allows, let the stew stand for 1 to 2 hours before serving, then heat through. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. Serve in shallow bowls, and pass around extra cilantro for topping individual servings.
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