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vegan fall vegetable stew with black beans and barley

We had some really nasty thunderstorms come through Friday night, but once those passed, we had the most glorious of glorious Fall weekends. Granted, I didn’t really get to experience it because I was inside painting all weekend, but still, it was everything Fall weather is supposed to be. Cool, breezy, low-humidity and perfect for chowing down on some hearty, filling, stick-to-your-ribs stew.

I know a lot of folks get psyched for pumpkin in the fall, and while I’m definitely a pumpkin fan, butternut squash is my absolute favorite of the winter squashes. You can do some crazy nutritious, crazy delicious things with the ole b-nut (like this and this and this). And while the taste and versatility of butternut squash is stupendous, my favorite part of it is how well it stores. Right now is the time to snag some cheap butternuts at your local farmer’s market or farm stand to stockpile for winter. Pick squash without any blemishes or spots, let them cure outside in a well-ventilated area for a few days and then stash them in a cool dark spot for the rest of the winter. If you’re feeling particularly hardcore, you can wipe down the outsides of the squash with a 10:1 water to bleach solution to kill any bacteria before storing. But even with that extra step, that’s it. That’s all you have to do and you can eat on butternut squash for months and months.

Also, side note, if you are planning your 2013 garden, plan on planting some butternuts. They are crazy easy to grow and we’ve gotten upwards of 8-10 squash out of each plant. We even grew them on our apartment patio last year in a pot!

Normally “the man” suggests you use your squash within a few months of curing, but I used squash from our garden last summer in this recipe and they were just as flavorful, just as firm and just as orange as if we’d picked them that day. Butternut squash are storage rockstars.


I think the nutritional benefits of this stew pretty much speak for themselves. Basically, you’d be hard-pressed to find a healthier bowl to enjoy for lunch or dinner. A boatload of veggies, beans, and whole grains all provide enough nutrients, fiber, protein and minerals to make this one super stew. It’s delicious. And it’s good for you. That rocks.


vegan fall vegetable stew with black beans and barley

  • Author: Cassie Johnston
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: Soups


Inspired by: Cookin Canuck


  • 2 small butternut squash (about 2-1/2 pounds), peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 ounces button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup pearled barley


  1. Fit a steamer basket over 1″ of water in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil. Add butternut squash to steamer basket, cover and steam for 10-12 minutes or until squash is fork tender. Remove from heat.
  2. Mash half of the squash using a potato masher (or in a food processor) until no chunks remain. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic is fragrant and tender, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add in green pepper, celery, carrots, onion and mushrooms. Saute for about 10 minutes until all veggies are soften.
  5. Add in all remaining ingredients (including both the mashed squash and the steamed squash chunks) to the saucepan, stirring well to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the barley is tender and all veggies are soft.

Keywords: soups, stew, vegan, beans, whole grains


Alright, make a choice: if you had you eat only one for the rest of your life, which would it be—butternut squash or pumpkin?

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Leave a Comment

  • Lindsey Stu SAYS

    How do you peel your butternut squash? I always feel like I’m going to lose a finger or something. They just seem so impossible to peel! What’s your method?

  • Athena R SAYS

    This looks so good! The perfect fall soup. I too love butternut squash. I think I’ll add this to my list to grow next year in my patio garden.

    • Cassie SAYS

      Definitely grow it! We just stuck one plant in a large pot (maybe 16″ diameter) and it did really well. And we even had a drought!

  • Chaley SAYS

    Butternut is BY FAR my favorite fall squash! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Amanda Elliott SAYS

    As much as I like squash, I don’t think I could live without pumpkin for the rest of my life. I just love my pumpkin pie and lattes way too much!

    Thanks for this recipe! Love all the ingredients and it’s also vegan, which is a huge plus. Will be making this next weekend!

  • Mmmm I am loving all of the fall comfort foods lately! This recipe makes me want to pull my slow cooker out of hibernation & live off of soup for a week <3

  • Katherine SAYS

    I’m gonna be a dissenter and say acorn squash. Don’t get me wrong, butternut and pumpkin are great, but acorn squash wins hand down in my book.

  • Yup. With you 100%- butternut squash is the best.
    Well… acorn and kabocha (gosh and every other similar tasting squash- there’s like 10 others just like ’em!) are so good too! I really need to grow my own. I love the fact that they can last so long in storage!
    I also love every single ingredient in this stew. I am SO READY for crockpot season. I make a vegan pumpkin chili that is to diiiieee forrrrr.

  • Thanks for postin’ this, I just got some squash today! One more day until my barley is done sprouting and then this recipe shall be initiated :)

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