My partner 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 to have him in my life, but I’m also just grateful that he’s not a picky eater haha. 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.
It has all the usual minestrone bits like garlic, chili, tomatoes, and heaps of vegetables, but I give it a few autumnal twists with diced butternut squash, lots of sage, and chopped chard for a touch of green. Familiar, but still exciting.
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.