My man is trying a 100% plant-based diet from now until Christmas. He is a committed omnivore, but he happily eats everything that I make. I feel blessed every single day that I get to love him, but mostly? I’m just grateful that he’s not a picky eater. I’m also really proud of him for committing to this lifestyle change for a bit. Granted, my skill set may make things a bit easier, but it’s still a bit of a leap–especially during the prime holiday season and all of the temptation that goes along with that.
Thick tomato-y stews and soups are pretty much guaranteed to be a hit with him, so other than a green smoothie and a packed up grain bowl for a work lunch, this is the first thing I properly made him on this plant-based journey. Spoilers: he loved it. It has all the usual minestrone bits like garlic, chili, tomatoes, and heaps of vegetables, but I give it a few autumnal twists and turns with diced butternut squash, lots of sage, and chopped chard for a touch of green. Familiar, but still exciting.
Mark’s commitment to this change has had me thinking and journaling about what goals I want to manifest as we close out the year. I always have faith that the universe will flow its graces/lessons into the areas that need it at just the right time. Sometimes life is incredibly full, and I don’t make the time to meditate on this idea. As the days go on without quiet time for reflection, it becomes easier for resentment, stress, overthinking, self-doubt, cynicism, and other distractions to creep in. I believe that you have to pursue a certain level of mental agility and clarity to truly see what you want out of life before you can really go for it. There’s a recognition of self-imposed barriers that needs to take place.
My book’s been out for a while and I’m ever-so-slowly getting into some kind of routine with this site. When I see family members or friends I haven’t ran into in a while, I typically get the “What’s next?” question and I have no clue what to say. I feel like there’s this pressure in the online wellness and creative content worlds to constantly be killing/crushing it, to keep lining up and knocking out all the things. I’ve tried to take on work life with this kind of pace, but I’m the type of person that needs to stop and think about the why of my next move surprisingly often, even with small things.
So while my man is changing his physical/dietary life a bit, I’m embarking on a stretch of deep mental and spiritual work so that I can set clearer goals for bigger truth in my life. It feels like a ripe time to cut away the hang-ups. My “deep work toolbox” is basically whatever form of meditation I can work into my days, cutting down on caffeine and alcohol considerably, reading as much relevant material as I can, and journaling to the point of hand cramps. Open to any suggestions on books, new mindfulness techniques, podcasts, or any other resources you’ve found helpful on your own journey. Let me know in the comments or in an email, whatever works ;) xo
BUTTERNUT MINESTRONE WITH SAGE, CHICKPEAS & CHARD
Print the recipe here!
NOTES: I chose orzo for my pasta here, but little shells or dittalini would be great. I find that when adding pasta to soups, it’s important to stir frequently because it can start sticking to the bottom of the pot if you leave it too long.
-I would have added a chopped stalk of celery to this, but surprise! My garden celery was a little woody and not the tastiest. The soup is great either way ;)
-Typically I like to use the chard stems in the same dish that I’m using the leaves, but I’d skip it here. The chopped up stems would make this watery and wouldn’t really contribute anything to the soup. Save the stalks for a stir fry, a mixed juice if you’re into that, and I’ve seen recipes that involve pickling the stems as well!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
1 medium carrot, small dice
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups small-diced butternut squash (about ½ of a small-medium butternut)
1 medium zucchini, small dice
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
7 cups vegetable stock
½ cup dry, small pasta
1 bunch of chard, leaves chopped
In a large, (5.25 quart or large) heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and stir. Saute until onions are starting to become translucent and soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the sage, thyme, chili flakes, garlic, and tomato paste to the pot and stir. Once the tomato paste is evenly distributed and the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, add the butternut squash, zucchini, and chickpeas. Stir to combine. Season the vegetables generously with salt and pepper.
Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pot. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Then, simmer the soup until the butternut squash pieces are tender, about 20-23 minutes. Add the pasta to the soup and continue simmering until pasta is tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Add the chopped chard to the soup and place the lid on the pot. Let the soup simmer until the chard is wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes. Check the soup for seasoning. Serve the butternut minestrone hot with drizzles of olive oil, extra chili flakes, freshly ground black pepper, sprinkles of vegan parmesan, or fresh bread.