New World Comfort Food

Succotash: If It Grows Together, It Goes Together

Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Winter Squash

Native Americans developed “succotash” over millennia as a core stew. As New World crops these ingredients were unfamiliar in the European diet, but became a staple dish in the Colonies.

I raised these plants in my garden back in the 90s to make succotash for a lecture I gave to the Audubon Society. This version features the “Three Sisters” ingredients: corn, beans, and squash, that were grown together: the corn hosted the climbing beans, and the squash provided shade and weed control.”

I Had Fresh Corn, But No Lima Beans, so I Used Canned Chickpeas

There is a sweet complexity in this version. Succotash can include other New World plants, including: tomatoes and peppers


  • oil – neutral, 2 TBS, [or lard]
  • flour – 2 TBS
  • corn – 2-3 ears, or 3-4 cups niblets
  • lima beans – baby preferred, 3 cups, cooked
  • squash – butternut, 3 cups, peeled, 1/2-inch dice, steamed
  • onion – 2 cups, diced
  • milk – 2+ cups, dairy or plant based
  • salt – 1 tsp
  • pepper – 1/2 tsp
  • fresh herb: chopped as garnish: parsley, thyme, chives

INSTRUCTIONS: I set up this version to separately cook the beans and squash. Alternately, cook the beans in plenty of water and when they become just al dente, add the squash and cook until both are tender.

  1. Cook the beans and squash
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil [or lard or chicken fat] and sprinkle in the flour; stirring for a few minutes to make a smooth, light colored roux
  3. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened, but not browned
  4. Slowly stir in the milk while stirring and simmer until slightly thickened
  5. Add in the remaining ingredients except the herbs and bring just to the simmer
  6. Adjust the stew with more milk, salt and pepper as needed
  7. Serve topped with chopped herbs

ADD-INS: To add protein consider diced sausage, or mushrooms

Succotash, Asian Slaw, Hot Dog with Kosher Dill


Thinned With Water, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Make a quick soup is as easy as adding water and:

  • fresh chopped herbs
  • a drizzle of Marsala, Madeira, or Dry Sherry
  • a few drops of hot sauce
  • roasted pumpkin seeds
  • crumbled feta
  • diced protein: tofu, sausage, mushrooms

Recipe adapted by B. Hettig

2 thoughts on “Succotash

  1. The Iroquois Nation in the Great Lakes region, used to control burn a section of forest, then mound the ash-rich soil and plant a fish in the mound, then the corn seeds. The beans and squash created the Three Sisters. When the soil became mineral depleted, they would selective burn an adjacent section. Over seven years they would repeat this cycle before returning to the original patch. They did this centuries before we adopted regenerative agriculture in recent years.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s