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Traditional Corn Soup

Before Indian Corn can be used for Corn Soup it must be thoroughly dried. The corn is picked in the late fall, the husk pulled back, then braided into three foot long bunches and hung up in the barn so the crows can't get at it.

Before Indian Corn (which is white:-) can be cooked into corn soup, it must first be put through a process called "lying:. Lye is an extremely strong acid found in hardwood ashes. This is what the traditional Indians used as it was abundant from their campfires. This lying process softens the outer shell somewhat and allows the two black eyes found on each kernel of corn to be washed off after cooking. There are very few Indians adept at preparing the dried white corn in this manner. The amount of wood ashes to be boiled with the corn is a very tricky task to accomplish properly. Too much lye will destroy the corn and too little will not do the job.

Therefore we leave this to the “lyers” of the tribe. The corn is boiled with the hardwood ashes and water for about two hours. Then it is washed to remove the eyes or hulls and to rinse the corn free of lye.

Wash and put 1 1/2 quarts of “lyed” Indian White Corn in an 8 quart pot. If you do not have Indian White Corn use canned white or yellow hominy, drained.

Fill with water 3/4 full and cover. Bring to a boil and keep at a rolling boil for 1 1/2 hours, corn should open full. You may want to cook corn a while longer. If the corn is not fully open, stir occasionally. Do not let it stick to the bottom of the pan.

While the corn is cooking, cut up 1 1/2 lbs of pork shoulder butt steaks into 3/4" square pieces. Do the same with 3/4 lbs of salt pork. Place meat in a separate pan and boil for 1 hour. Water should cover pork 4" or so. Add if will need this for stock.

After the corn opens to your satisfaction or two hours maximum, remove from stove and pour through strainer. Do not rinse corn. Rinse out pot and put corn back into pot. Add the cooked pork along with the stock.

Open three 1 lb cans of dark red kidney beans and add.

Rinse cans, add water to cover mixture 3 inches or so. Boil mixture for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding water in necessary. Stir occasionally; do not let it stick to the bottom of the pot. Serve with freshly cooked bannock.

Three Sisters Soup

Traditionally the Iroquois people have lived in the northern areas around Ontario, Canada and upstate New York for well over 4,000 years. “Iroquois” actually refers to a language rather than a particular tribe, and prior to European colonization; the Iroquois consisted of at least five tribes.

The soup below is called “Three Sisters Harvest Vegetable Soup”, a name that holds much meaning. In many Native American cultures, the “three sisters” refer to corn, squash, and beans – three key crops that have been planted alongside one another for over 5,000 years in a technique called companion planting.

The “three sisters” support one another as they grow. The corn (or maize) provides a pole-like structure for the beans to crawl up, while the beans fertilize the soil beneath with nitrogen (a compound that the other two plants need in order to live). The third sister, squash, grows in clusters around the group and blots out most of the sunlight, preventing weeds from moving in on the dance.


  • 2 cups hulled white corn, cooked/prepared ahead. If you do not have Indian White Corn use canned white or yellow hominy, drained.
  • 15 oz. cooked kidney or pinto beans (can use canned or fresh)
  • 32 oz. of vegetable broth
  • 30 oz. diced tomatoes (can use canned or fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cups winter squash, peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup parsnips, cubed,
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Prepare ahead hulled corn.

2. Warm the oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic.

3. Sauté 10 minutes on low heat.

4. Add basil and cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Add squash, carrots, parsnips, and tomatoes. Simmer until tender. Add beans and corn, simmer for another 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

A Blessing

When you sit down to enjoy this traditional soup, perhaps you’d like to share this native blessing from the Iroquois tradition around the table, to help remember that the Earth nourishes and feeds both our bodies and spirits.

We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters,
the beans and squashes, which give us life.

We return thanks to the bushes and trees, which provide us with fruit.

We return thanks to the Great Spirit, in who is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of his children grandchildren and those yet to be born.

Oven or Stovetop Bannock

The most common way to cook bannock is in a skillet on the stovetop, in the oven or over an open fire.

  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Add a ¼ cup of canola oil to 2 cups warm water (for baked bannock) for cooking (for stovetop bannock)

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.

For baked bannock: Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the water and canola oil, then stir just until combined.

Spread the dough into a greased 9×13-inch pan and bake in a preheated oven at 375˚F for 35-40 minutes.

For stovetop bannock: Gradually add enough water to moisten the ingredients and bring the mixture together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead about 10 times.

Shape the dough into round patties about ½-inch thick. Cook on an oiled skillet for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown.

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