Butternut Squash, Chickpea, and Swiss Chard Stew (Three Ways)


It is STEW weather!!!! The temps have dropped and I already find myself craving big bowls of comforting stews, sweatpants, a hot cup of tea, and a good book. It has been difficult to go for runs this week with temperatures in the 40s (for highs), but it makes it worthwhile when I can come home to a big steamy bowl of stew.

This stew is chocked full of nutrients and contains the best of what is in season right now….winter squash and swiss chard. If you don’t have swiss chard, you can sub spinach. Swiss chard is like king of greens and nutrients. As the seasons go cold and many of us are fighting off colds, eating these leafy greens will help boost your immune system.  Slice the leafy portion in 1 inch strips and cut the stalk in 1/4 inch sections, discarding larger portions of the stalk due to toughness.

Butternut squash is a hearty winter squash that stores very well. I successfully grew a few this year in my garden and have them stored in my basement. You could probably use sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash in this recipe, but if you have never ventured down the butternut squash path…do it. It’s surprisingly sweet when cooked. I love it roasted too, adding a caramely sweetness. Cutting one up does take a bit of effort. Slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, and slice the halves vertically and remove the rind. You can also find diced butternut squash in the freezer section of your local grocer.

Now this stew is very versatile. I made it as a curry, but it would be great with a tuscan or italian flare and even a mexican twist.  For the three varieties, here are the different combos that you could add to the stew:

  • Curry Style – Add chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and loads of curry powder.
  • Tuscan Style – White beans (navy beans or cannellini), basil, and thyme.
  • Mexican Style – blackbeans, red bell pepper, green chilis, chili powder (chipotle or regular), and cumin.
To make this stew creamy, I use an immersion blender to blend part of the butternut squash into a puree. If you do not have an immersion blender, then transfer some of the soup into a blender or food processor. Pureeing part of the stew gives a creamy base to the stew without adding heavy cream.
Butternut Squash, Chickpea, and Swiss Chard Stew (serves 6 as main dish)
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups of diced butternut squash
  • 15 oz can diced tomato, undrained
  • 3 – 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth (may sub half water)
Curry Style Add-ins:
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro (optional)
Tuscan Style Add-ins:
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 15 oz can of navy beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard or kale, cleaned and chopped
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
Mexican Style Add-ins:
  • diced red bell pepper
  • 8 oz can of diced green chilis
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp chili powder (chipotle or regular)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard (or spinach), cleaned and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat. Add diced onions and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  2. Add diced butternut squash, stirring to coat with olive oil. Saute for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add broth, spices (except basil and parsley if going tuscan), beans, and tomatoes (add red pepper and chilis at this stage if going the mexican-style route). Bring stew to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until squash becomes tender.
  4. Add chard and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes or until chard stems become tender. Stir in the final touches…parsley, basil, or cilantro, depending on the stew that you are making.
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