Above: Three Sister's Bean Stew includes a combination of kidney, cannellini, and black beans (from Cultural Blend, November 2021). Photograph by Quentin Bacon.

Our spiritual connections to food have always been honored and reflected in ceremonies, one of which is the Bean Dance, vital to the coming-of-age ceremony for Hopi children. Keep that in mind as you prepare this comforting stew, best served with grilled or roasted meats, or spooned over wild rice for a delicious vegetarian dinner. I prefer the combination of kidney, cannellini, and black beans, but substitute what you have or what you like: pinto, great northern, or cranberry beans. If you like a little heat, add roasted chiles. Their smoky spice pairs beautifully with the sautéed onions and garlic.

2 tablespoons canola oil  
1 small onion, peeled and diced  
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced  
2 sprigs fresh thyme  
1 bay leaf  
½ carrot, peeled and finely diced  
½ stalk celery, finely diced  
Salt, to taste  
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste    
1 cup cooked kidney beans  
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
1 cup cooked black beans  
½ cup diced tomatoes  
2½ cups chicken or vegetable stock  

Serves 4 to 6


  1. Into a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, carrot, and celery. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper and allow the ingredients to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the cooked beans, diced tomatoes, and stock. Bring to a light boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for several minutes; the stock will thicken.

  3. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and serve hot. This stew can be refrigerated for three to four days or frozen for four to six months.

Let's Eat

New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian is available at bookstores throughout the country. Learn more about Freddie J. Bitsoie’s work, including his partnership with famed Italian chef Lidia Bastianich, on his Rezervations Not Required Facebook page.