Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and White Beans is the farmers market turned into a big pot of warm comfort.

Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash in a soup bowl with slices of bread

If you follow me on Instagram, each Saturday morning you can count on a flood of gorgeous farmers market images: bright flowers, crates bursting with tomatoes, and pumpkins so pretty, Cinderella would have a hard time choosing just one for her carriage.

The farmers market inspires my cooking 1) Because the produce is abundant, affordable, and so fresh it was often picked that morning, and 2) Because I wind up with so many veggie impulse buys, I have no choice but to work them into our menu. Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and White Beans is my latest farmers market love story.

Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash in a Dutch oven with bread slices on the side

Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale and White Beans

Butternut squash and I have a long history. Last fall when one of the growers marked his squash down to $.20 a pound, I brought home so much I had to store it behind Ben’s man recliner. (We were out of space in the kitchen, and the space under the bed has been claimed by my out-of-season clothes and Ben’s old running shoes.) I’m a bit of a kale fanatic, and the pretty green tops on these carrots make me powerless to resist them too.

Carrots tied together at the top with twist ties

This minestrone soup combines in-seaon veggies with pretty white beans for healthy protein, whole grain noodles for tummy-filling fiber, and a heap of freshly grated Parmesan + bacon because life is short and it’s the right thing to do.

I receive a lot of questions from readers—many of whom are students themselves—about how I handle Ben and my food budget, while still enjoying healthy, satisfying meals. I’m no Dave Ramsey, but Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and White Beans (which feeds 8 nicely and 6 really nicely) is the case study for a few principles I have learned about eating well on less dinero. Let’s break it down:

  • Fresh, seasonal ingredients: Buying in-season ingredients is good karma for both your taste buds (fruits and veggies taste best in their prime) and your wallet. In the case of this Minestrone Soup, both butternut squash and kale are in season, so they set me back all of $2.70 or $.38 per serving.
  • Choose store brands where quality difference is negligible: For this recipe, I used the generic brand of chopped tomatoes, white beans, and chicken stock. I did spring for the low sodium versions of each—worth the net $1 difference to me. Of the three items listed here, if you want to splurge one name-brand, I’d choose the chicken stock.
  • Mind your protein: Beans have to be one of my all-time favorite budget-friendly super stars (eggs are the other). Beans are good for you, easy to make, and dirt-cheap. Stock up on cans of beans when they are on sale (I bought these pretty little cannelli beans for a whopping $.77) and add ‘em to everything. For even more savings, plan ahead and start with dry beans. The bacon was a bit of a splurge when you look at the total cost of the package ($5.75), but I’ll use that package across three different dishes. I’ve found that about four slices of good bacon is just enough to add bacon-licious flavor, without upsetting your wallet or your waistline. (These bacon-topped Spaghetti Squash Boats are a recent favorite.)
  • Splurge for quality where it counts and make it last: By being smart with my meal dollars, I have room to add a few higher quality ingredients, so I choose the most important ones. In our Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and White Beans, it’s the extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese, and they’re not costing me as much as you might guess. I like to buy big blocks of Parmesan ($6.49 per pound), then grate them in my food processor. The taste of freshly grated versus the green can varietal is beyond compare, and the price difference when handled this way is negligible. It’s the same story with extra virgin olive oil. I look for largest bottles of better-quality brands, and the benefit I receive far outweighs the small price difference.

Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash in a white bowl topped with cheese

Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and White Beans is my food-budget happy place. What’s yours? Feel free to share links to your favorite budget-friendly recipes and tips about how you stretch your food dollar. In the meantime, enjoy this big pot of warm, comforting Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and White Beans. It’s autumn farmers market bounty, brought directly to your table.

Minestrone soup in a white bowl with bread on the side

Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale and White Beans

5 from 1 vote
Minestrone soup with butternut squash, kale, bacon, and Parmesan is a hearty, healthy soup that's perfect for fall and winter nights. Makes great leftovers too!

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins

Servings: 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 4 ounces bacon, 1/2-inch diced (4-5 slices)
  • 1 tablespoon  extra virgin olive oil plus extra for toasting the bread and serving
  • 3 cups butternut squash 1/2-inch diced & peeled (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cups carrots 1/2-inch diced (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups celery 1/2-inch diced (3 stalks)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion about 1 medium
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic 4 cloves
  • 1 pound kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 26 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus additional as needed (depending upon the saltiness of the stock)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups cooked whole wheat small pasta such as elbow (about 1 cup dry)
  • 1 can cannellini beans (15 ounces) drained and rinsed
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
  • Baguette cut into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices

Instructions
 

  • In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium low, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan and place in between two paper towels set atop a dinner plate. Blot lightly and set aside. Drain most of the excess fat from the Dutch oven. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, squash, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sauté over medium heat, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Add the kale in batches as it fits in the pot, stirring so that it cooks down. Once kale has lightly wilted, add the tomatoes, 6 cups chicken stock, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Once soup has simmered and the vegetables are soft, discard the bay leaf. Add the beans, cooked pasta, and reserved bacon and heat through. The soup should be fairly thick, but add additional chicken stock as needed. Serve hot drizzled with olive oil and topped with Parmesan cheese.
  • To toast baguette: Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Brush both sides of each baguette slice with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Cook until golden and toasted, about 6 minutes. Serve warm with soup.

Notes

Minestrone Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and White Beans makes fabulous leftovers! Store in your refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

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I am sharing this post in partnership with California Olive Ranch. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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66 Comments

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  1. This looks amazing – I’m obsessed with soups these days! And the cheese on top? A woman after my own heart!

  2. Your money-saving tips are spot-on…and this soup looks pretty much like perfection too. There is nothing like a hearty bean and veggie stew during the cooler days of fall. Thanks for sharing Erin!

  3. A heart and warming soup! With a few slices of pumpkin bread, this would make a fantastic dinner for me.

  4. I just love going to the farmer’s market too!! So much goodness, it’s hard to ever just pick a few things! ;) This soup looks so colorful and tasty!!

    1. Thanks so much Jocelyn! And I never seem to be able to just pick “a few” things–our fridge is overflowing!

  5. I love going to farmer’s markets too because I love supporting the locals. Minestrone is a classic and yours looks gorgeous. So many lovely colors and fresh veggies. :)

    1. Here, here Tina! There is something that is just so rewarding about buying from local producers. Thanks for commenting and have a great day!

  6. Yum! Great minds think a like… I just made a big pot of minestrone soup last weekend with butternut squash and bacon in it! I love making a big pot of soup to really help stretch the grocery budget!

    1. Cheers girl–I bet yours was outrageously tasty. Anything with butternut squash (and ok, bacon) makes me weak and the knees!

  7. Really like the photography on your site Erin, theres chatter at PicnicShop HQ that this could be some of the best soup we’ve seen!

    Some of your soup in a Thermos on a long walk would go down SO well.

    Thanks!
    The PicnicShop Team

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! That is such a compliment–I’m blushing :-) Love the thermos idea too. So cozy!

  8. A new Farmers Market opened finally close enough for me to go to Only 12 miles  last Thursday I saw your recipes on Facebook & saved it immediately- picked this soup for my journey, got almost everything I needed at the organic veggies & fruits stand! So thrilled everything was perfect & a bit pricey but hey healthy counts right? Finished up list at grocery store beans, bacon etc.  
    Recipe printed off & today is the day!!! One of my neighbors is doing Chemo & both her & her husband love my soup, even though I live in the city I have a large garden with multiple waist high containers, winter is my soup garden!
    One question please since butternut squash is hard to peal & dice do you have a suggestion please?

    1. Hi Fay, I hope you enjoy the soup! I find the easiest way to peel butternut squash is with a vegetable peeler. As for dicing, this may be a helpful tutorial: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_cut_a_butternut_squash/

  9. I served this soup during a New Year’s Eve dinner party. It’s special enough for a celebration! I did omit the pasta, since the soup was already REALLY thick, and I had added the full eight cups of broth. The leftovers taste great, too.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit, Eileen! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

  10. I don’t have any butternut squash, would it be okay with put it? Also I’m vegetarian so would I need to make any changes if I take out the bacon?

    1. Hi Tulsi! I’ve never tried this recipe without the squash or bacon, so it would be an experiment. It won’t be as flavorful without those ingredients, but I think it will still be tasty. I hope you enjoy the soup if you try it!

    1. Hi Kelli! I haven’t tried this in a slow cooker myself, so you’d be experimenting. If you decide to play around with it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

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