Great Garden Soup

Great Garden Soup
Makes: 6 Servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

This soup is reminiscent of chili. It is a traditional Native American stew consisting of squash, corn, and beans. Native American stories of the Three Sisters refer to a tradition of planting corn, beans, and squash together in the garden. This practice was good for the soil and yielded healthy vegetables.


Nonstick cooking spray
4 ounces Ground beef, at least 90% lean, raw, fresh or frozen
2/3 cup Onions, fresh, 1/4" diced
2 cloves Garlic, fresh, minced (1 clove is about 1/2 teaspoon minced)
1 tablespoon Jalapeno pepper, fresh, seeds and veins removed, minced
2/3 cup Butternut squash, fresh, 1/2" cubed
1/4 cup Green beans, fresh, cut into 1/2" pieces
3 tablespoons Corn, frozen
1 tablespoon Thyme, dried
1/4 cup Summer squash, fresh, unpeeled, 1/2" diced
1/4 cup Zucchini, fresh, unpeeled, 1/2" diced
11 ounces Kidney beans, low sodium, rinsed, and drained or kidney beans, dry, cooked (1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp)
1/3 cup Tomato sauce, canned
3/8 cup Tomatoes with juice, canned, diced
1/4 cup Water


1. Coat a medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Heat the skillet on medium-high heat.

3. Add ground beef and brown. Heat to 165 °F or higher for at least 15 seconds. Drain.

4. In a medium stockpot add browned beef, onions, garlic, jalapeno peppers, butternut squash, green beans, corn, and thyme. Cook for 4-6 minutes on medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until onions and peppers are tender. (If using a slow cooker see instructions below in the notes section).

5. Add summer squash, zucchini, kidney beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes with juice, and water. Stir well. Bring to a boil.

6. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir often. Heat to 140 °F or higher for 15 seconds. Serve 2/3 cup.

Critical Control Point: Hold at 140 °F or higher.





CACFP Crediting Information:

2/3 cup provides Legume as Meat Alternate: 1 1/2 oz. equivalent meat/meat alternate and 1/4 cup vegetable OR Legume as Vegetable: 1/4 oz. meat and 1/2 cup vegetable.

 Chef Tips:

For optimal browning and taste: 1. Do not rinse ground beef.  2. Do not crowd ground beef. Crowding may cause the juices to pool around the meat. Pooling causes the juices to steam the beef rather than brown it, making it less flavorful.


If ground beef is frozen, defrost in the refrigerator for 1 day per 1-5 pounds. Store raw beef at 40 °F or lower.

If using a slow cooker, add browned beef and vegetable mixture along with remaining ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.  See Slow Cooker safety tips below.

Slow Cooker and Food Safety Tips

Slow cookers cook food slowly at a low temperature-generally between 170 °F and 280 °F. The low heat helps less expensive, leaner cuts of meat become tender and shrink less.

If you cut up the meat and vegetables in advance, store them separately in the refrigerator. The slow cooker may take several hours to reach a safe, bacteria-killing temperature.

Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it into the slow cooker.

Make sure the cooker is plugged in and turned on.

Keep the lid in place.

Tips for Soaking Dry Beans:

1 lb. dry kidney beans = about 2 1/2 cups dry or 6 1/4 cups cooked kidney beans.

Overnight Method: Add 1 3/4 qt. cold water to every 1 lb. of dry beans. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Discard the water. Proceed with recipe.

Quick-Soak Method: Boil 1 3/4 qt. of water for each 1 lb. of dry beans. Add beans and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to soak for 1 hour. Discard the water. Proceed with recipe.

Tips for Cooking Dry Beans:

Once the beans have been soaked, add 1 3/4 qt. water for every lb. of dry beans. Boil gently with lid tilted until tender, about 2 hours.

Use cooked beans immediately.

Critical Control Point:

Hold for hot service at 140 °F or higher or chill for later use. To chill, cool to 70 °F within 2 hours and to 40 °F or lower within an additional 4 hours.

For a quantity recipe that yields 25 or 50 servings see:

Find tips and resources for safe food handling and proper cooking temperature guidance.