This is one of my favorite late-summer/early-fall dishes, with corn and hatch chiles evoking memories of warmer days whilst beans and pumpkin get me in the mood for cozy fall and winter stews.

“Three Sisters” refers to the three main agricultural crops of various indigenous groups in North America: winter squash, maize (corn) and climbing beans. These plants complement each other perfectly: The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight and creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil. Nutritionally, corn, beans and squash contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids and all nine essential amino acids.

I frequently feel awe-struck by our ancestors’ instinctive nutritional knowledge – they didn’t need calorie trackers, randomized placebo-controlled trials and dietary guidelines to know what they should eat. This dish is super quick & easy to make and gets better after a day or two in the fridge. Adjust spiciness to taste.

Three Sisters green chili chicken

Keyword: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Instant Pot, Meat & Chicken, Soups & Stews
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 316kcal
A warming fall stew with sweet echoes of summer.
Print Recipe


Green chili chicken stew

  • 1 onion, yellow chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced -- about 5 cloves
  • 1 jalapeno chili deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 Anaheim peppers deseeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers deseeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 4-oz can diced Hatch green chilis as hot or mild as you like
  • ¾ lb tomatillos about 5-6 tomatillos; husks discarded, quartered
  • 2 cups winter squash cubed; butternut, sugar pumpkin, hokkaido - they all work here
  • ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
  • 1 can fat-free refried beans or 1½ cups homemade refried beans, you domestic god/dess!
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels frozen
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ½ cup cilantro coarsely chopped


  • Whatever you feel like! E.g., thinly sliced avocado, radishes, red or white cabbage, green onions, grated or crumbled cheese queso fresco, cheddar), sour cream, warm corn tortillas


  • Put all the ingredients – from chopped onion through chicken thighs – in the Instant Pot. Lock the lid and cook for 15 minutes on HIGH PRESSURE. Release pressure by shifting the pressure valve to VENTING (cover with a towel to contain the steam).
  • Using tongs, transfer chicken pieces to a platter and set aside. If you want a soupier texture, puree with a few bursts of an immersion blender. (I personally like mine chunky.)
  • Stir in the refried beans and corn into the vegetables in the pot and reheat on SAUTE, MEDIUM. Meanwhile, shred the chicken and add to the pot; stir gently to combine.
  • Add lime juice, fish sauce, salt & pepper and the cilantro. Season to taste with any of these flavorings. Serve immediately with desired garnish and lime wedges.


Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 144mg | Sodium: 875mg | Potassium: 990mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 9110IU | Vitamin C: 62mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 3mg