Indigenous Engagement

Three Sisters Soup with Smoked Duck

YIELD: 4 cups


2medium squashes (butternut or spaghetti, preferably)
1large sweet potato
2small carrots
3celery stalks
1small red onion
60 gginger
150 gbeans (any variety, canned works better)
150 gcorn (canned, frozen, or fresh)
2 lwater or vegetable stock (more if needed)
15 mlrubbed sage
5 mlsumac
2-3springs thyme, fresh
1bay leaf
2.5 mlsumac for garnish
45 mlcanola oil (any neutral oil is okay)

Salt and pepper to taste

Smoked Duck

1duck breast
15 mlcoarse salt
15 mlcracked pepper
7.5 mlmaple sugar


  1. Peel and small dice the squash, sweet potato, carrots, and ginger. Dice the celery.
  2. Warm the oil in a suitable heavy-bottomed pot and add the diced vegetables.
  3. Cook until bright and slightly softened, then add sumac and sage and cook briefly before adding the water or stock.
  4. Bring to a simmer, add the thyme sprig and bay leaf, and cook until vegetables are soft enough to purée.
  5. Remove the soup from the heat, pick out the thyme and bay leaf, and discard them.
  6. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches. An immersion blender works great.
  7. Warm the soup again and add salt and pepper to season.
  8. In a separate sauté pan, using a little oil, sauté the beans and corn until warm and soft, season them with salt and pepper, and use as a garnish.
  9. Place the warm puréed soup in a soup bowl, garnish with the corn and bean mix, and place 2 to 3 slices of the smoked duck breast on top of the soup.
  10. Dust with sumac and serve.

Smoked Duck

  1. Pat-dry the duck breast and score the fat and skin. Place the duck breast in a cooler unwrapped to develop a pellicle – a minimum 1 hour.
  2. Warm the smoker to 190˚F using the wood of your choice (maple works well).
  3. Season the duck breast and place it in the smoker for about 30 minutes. Just a hint of smokiness is needed.
  4. Remove the duck from the smoker and let it rest.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
  6. Warm a cast iron pan (or other oven-safe pan), then place the duck breast skin-side down on the pan and brown it. Make sure the pan isn’t too hot – you want to render the duck fat and save it for other cooking.
  7. When the skin starts turning golden-brown and crispy, flip over the duck breast and place the pan in the oven for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until internal temperature has reached 135-138˚F.
  8. Rest the duck breast for no less than 10 minutes.

DID YOU KNOW? Many Indigenous communities refer to corn, squash, and bean as the Three Sisters. Planted together in spring, the corn, beans, and squash grow together and sustain one another throughout the summer and fall. The corn stalk provides support for the beans, which climb high above the other plants to reach the sun. The squash shades the soil and locks in moisture. The bean plant captures nitrogen from the atmosphere and releases it into the soil as fertilizer for the corn and squash. The corn, beans, and squash also complement each other nutritionally, providing a healthy, sustainable meal.