Plant-Based Winter Minestrone


winter minestrone copy.jpg

This week we celebrated the 4th year of the Thrive Kitchen, the cooking class series I founded and continue to teach monthly at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco.  Much gratitude to everyone who has helped me along this meaningful journey!  You can learn more about Thrive Kitchen here.  I also had a chance to have a conversation with Jackie Ward of KPIX TV/CBS Channel 5 in San Francisco (video link below), and shared some tips on how to transition to a plant-based diet.  I shared this recipe for Winter Minestrone, which we also made in this week’s Thrive Kitchen.  Recipe is adapted the Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa” star Ina Garten’s recipe to be strictly plant-based, and enhanced with the addition of other winter vegetables. Enjoy in good health!

And if you don’t already, please follow my page at for more recipes and nutrition tips, as well as the Thrive Kitchen schedule and other events.  You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @spiceboxtravels.


Winter Minestrone

Makes 8

2 cup servings


2T olive oil

1½ cups chopped yellow onions

2 cups (½-inch-diced) carrots

2 cups (½-inch-diced) celery

1 cup (½-inch-diced) peeled butternut squash

1 cup (1/2-inch-diced) peeled kohlrabi or chayote

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (may substitute 1 tsp dried thyme)

1 26-ounce can diced tomatoes

6 to 8 cups unsalted vegetable stock, preferably homemade

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 15-ounce can no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups cooked small whole grain pasta, such as ditalini, small macaroni or small shells

¼ cup red wine

10 ounces fresh baby spinach

2 tablespoons basil pesto


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.   Then add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Next, add butternut squash, kohlrabi, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1½ teaspoons pepper and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans, cooked pasta and wine and bring to a boil until heated through.  If the soup is too too thick, add more stock or water
  4. Gradually fold in spinach until just wilted but still very green, about 30 seconds.  Stir in pesto and adjust salt to taste, then serve immediately.


Jump to the video of the interview:

One response

  1. Pingback: 21-Day Plant Power Challenge: Intro and Week One Menu | spicebox travels

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