Butternut squash and kale are teamed with the warmth of cumin and chili powder to make this Mexican Minestrone knock your socks off good.
The weather man promised thunder and lightening, so I grabbed my minestrone and waited for the show to begin. A steaming bowl of hot soup is the perfect accompaniment for a storm, and I was ready! While the light show never materialized, the soup was devoured with gusto, as the street outside my window flowed like a river. The storm hardly mattered, though, as the soup now had my full attention. Laced with warm spices such as cumin and chili powder, this is not your typical minestrone. No, I’m calling this one Mexican Minestrone. Since there’s no fixed recipe for minestrone anyway, I can get away with it.
As with so many good things, this recipe was the result of happenstance. My CSA delivery had arrived and with it, a recipe for kale and butternut squash minestrone. Sounded good, except I didn’t quite have all the ingredients. As I started making substitutions, a whole new dish emerged. That smokiness from the cumin… a little tang from the chili powder… the brightness of the cilantro… even some sweetness from the butternut squash… our dinner guest that evening exclaimed, “This is fantastic!” as he slurped up bowl after bowl.
Minestrone, in general, is a wonderfully versatile soup. It has roots in ancient times, predating the Roman Empire, although it has evolved over time. For example, even though it’s always been mostly vegetables, the signature tomatoes weren’t added until the mid-16th century. Even today, recipes can vary by region and by season. One constant, though, is that it’s a hearty and satisfying meal all by itself, and this version will keep you coming back for more.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 tbsp Better than Bouillon
- 1/2 of a butternut squash, cubed
- 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Grated Cotija Cheese for garnish
- In a large pot over medium heat, saute the red onion in the olive oil until translucent. Stir in the garlic, celery and carrots, and continue to cook for a few additional minutes.
- Stir in the oregano, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, broth, water, bouillon, and squash. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. When the squash is tender, add the beans and kale, and continue to cook until the kale has wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the cilantro just before serving.
- Serve with the cilantro and cotija as garnish.