Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 19 votes

Vegan butternut minestrone is a cozy Fall spin on a classic soup. It's filled out with chickpeas, chard, hearty herbs, and whole grain pasta.

An overhead shot of butternut minestrone with chickpeas and chard in an off-white Dutch oven, set on top of a grey linen tablecloth. There is a bread basket nearby.

This vegan butternut minestrone is a delightful twist on the classic Italian soup. In this version, cubes of squash mingle with chickpeas, chard, tomatoes, vegetable stock, and orzo pasta for a hearty and thick soup that’s perfect for dinner. A fun new way to enjoy this seasonal crop (outside of classic vegan butternut squash soup), this vegan dinner is sure to satisfy all types of eaters and is ready in about an hour. I also have a more traditional vegan minestrone soup recipe!

An overhead shot of a bowl of butternut minestrone with chickpeas and chard, set on top of a grey linen tablecloth.
A head on shot of chard plants in a raised garden bed.
An overhead shot of ingredients for butternut minestrone on a dark wood cutting board.

My partner is trying a 100% plant-based diet from now until Christmas. He is a committed omnivore, but he happily eats everything that I make. I feel blessed to have him in my life, but I’m also just grateful that he’s not a picky eater haha. I’m also really proud of him for committing to this lifestyle change for a bit. Granted, my skill set may make things a bit easier, but it’s still a bit of a leap–especially during the prime holiday season and all of the traditional comfort foods that he’s used to.

Thick tomato-y stews and soups are pretty much guaranteed to be a hit with him, so other than a green smoothie and a packed up grain bowl for a work lunch, this butternut minestrone is the first thing I properly made him on this plant-based journey. More excellent tomato-based soups and stews: Cauliflower, Chickpea & Kale Pot, Smoky Chickpea, Cabbage & Lentil Soup, and a Spicy White Bean Stew with Potatoes.

It has all the usual minestrone bits like garlic, chili, tomatoes, and heaps of vegetables, but I give it a few autumnal twists with diced butternut squash, lots of sage, and chopped chard for a touch of green. Familiar, but still exciting! I love topping steaming bowls with some vegan parmesan too.

Side by side: all prepped and chopped ingredients for a butternut minestrone in little bowls set in a baking sheet. The other photo shows the vegetables for the soup being sautéed in a Dutch oven.
Chopped chard being added to a pot of red soup in an off-white Dutch oven.
A head on shot of an off white Dutch oven with chard spilling out the top. The pot is set on a wooden cutting board in front of a kitchen window.
An overhead shot of butternut minestrone with chickpeas and chard in an off-white Dutch oven, set on top of a grey linen tablecloth. There is a bread basket nearby.
An overhead shot of butternut minestrone with chickpeas and chard in white bowls, set on top of a grey linen tablecloth. There is a bread basket nearby. The bowls are garnished with a sprinkle of nut-based “Parmesan”

Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard

Vegan butternut minestrone is a cozy Fall spin on a classic soup. It's filled out with chickpeas, chard, hearty herbs, and whole grain pasta.
5 from 19 votes
Vegan Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard - The First Mess
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings 8


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 medium carrot, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups small-diced butternut squash (about ½ of a small-medium butternut)
  • 1 medium zucchini, small dice
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 29oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 7 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup dry, small pasta (I used orzo)
  • 1 bunch chard, chopped


  • I chose orzo for my pasta here, but little shells or dittalini would be great. I find that when adding pasta to soups, it’s important to stir frequently because it can start sticking to the bottom of the pot if you leave it too long.
  • I would have added a chopped stalk of celery to this, but surprise! My garden celery was a little woody and not the tastiest. The soup is great either way ;)
  • Typically I like to use the chard stems in the same dish that I’m using the leaves, but I’d skip it here. The chopped up stems would make this watery and wouldn’t really contribute anything to the soup. Save the stalks for a stir fry, a mixed juice if you’re into that, and I’ve seen recipes that involve pickling the stems as well!


  • In a large, (5.25 quart or larger) heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and stir. Saute until onions are starting to become translucent and soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the sage, thyme, chili flakes, garlic, and tomato paste to the pot and stir. Once the tomato paste is evenly distributed and the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, add the butternut squash, zucchini, and chickpeas. Stir to combine. Season the vegetables generously with salt and pepper.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pot. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Then, simmer the soup until the butternut squash pieces are tender, about 20-23 minutes. Add the pasta to the soup and continue simmering until pasta is tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the chopped chard to the soup and place the lid on the pot. Let the soup simmer until the chard is wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes. Check the soup for seasoning. Serve the butternut minestrone hot with drizzles of olive oil, extra chili flakes, freshly ground black pepper, sprinkles of vegan “parmesan”, or fresh bread.
11/10/2017 (Last Updated 05/01/2024)
Posted in: autumn, chickpeas, earthy, gluten free option, main course, nut free, pasta, quick, refined sugar-free, soup, sour, spring, summer, sweet, tomatoes, umami, vegan, winter


Recipe Rating

  • Sandra Taghdissi

    5 stars
    I really want to cook this for my vegan daughter however she is type 1 diabetic and I was wondering if you had the carbohydrate values of a single serving? It’s far easier to calculate her insulin with this information. It looks delicious and I’m looking forward to trying it

  • Eliana

    5 stars
    Made this soup and it is delicious, just swapped out for ingredients I had on hand – acorn squash instead of buttternut, white beans instead of chickpeas, and kale instead of chard- so good! My husband LOVES  minestrone and typically I find it too tomato-y, but this recipe is full of veggies so it evenly balances the flavors. It makes a large amount which is great for busy weekdays and leftovers. Will definitely make this again!

  • Olivia Marran

    Great recipe!!! This was easy to follow and tasted amazing! The Parmesan was a delicious addition on top! 

  • Caitlin Hawksley

    5 stars
    Minstrone is one of my favorite soups, and this is such a fun twist on the classic! The tender butternut squash adds perfect sweetness and body, and the mix of fresh herbs is a welcome update. Love this recipe!

  • Caitlin Hawksley

    5 stars
    Minestrone is my favorite type of soup, and this was such a fun twist on the classic. Tender butternut squash provides perfect sweetness and body, and the mix of fresh herbs is a welcome update. 

  • Cassie

    Do you have a tutorial for cutting the butternut squash? So hard! Am I supposed to put it in raw or cooked?

  • LS

    A little late to this recipe, but this is an amazing minestrone! Going on our weekly rotation. Thanks for another winner Laura <3

    • Laura

      Never too late! So glad you enjoyed it :)

  • Britt

    Any idea if this freezes well?

    • Laura

      Hi Britt,
      This soup would definitely freeze well. I’d leave the chard out and just add it once you thaw and reheat the soup.

  • Samantha

    I’ve made this recipe many times now and look forward to it every time I get a butternut squash! Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Delicious!

  • Jess

    Thank you for the excellent recipe! We will be eating this all week for lunch

  • Molly Bollier

    This soup was just delightful! Warm and nourishing and delicious. I used frozen, cubed butternut squash so it came together quickly. Thank you!

  • Janel Barthe

    Yes, yes, to the photographs! Want to make make this soup, can I use diced tomatoes instead? Crushed tomatoes too acidic for my family. Any other substitution ideas welcome too

    • Laura

      Hi Janel! Yes, diced tomatoes would be fine here. The soup might be a touch more watery/less rich-seeming, but the flavour will be virtually the same :)

  • Chrissie

    I made this recipe last weekend. It was absolutely delicious!.

  • Cyndi K

    Really enjoyed this twist on minestrone. Thanks Laura!

  • Elizabeth

    I just made this tonight and it is amazing! The combination of flavors and textures makes it so much more than just another tomato-based veggie soup recipe. I was craving a soup like this, but usually end up feeling “meh” about the ones I’ve tried. This one, though, will be my stand-by from now on! Thank you for sharing!

  • Greg

    I’m also a man and cutting back the meat and going for an increased vegetable diet. I just made this recipe for my wife and I, this recipe is awesome! Super tasty and one we will definetely revisit again. Very economical also.. Well done

  • Smadar

    Oh MAN this was good!!! Especially the soft chickpeas with all those chunky vegetables and that spicy, salty, mildly sweet broth… awesome recipe as always :)

  • Maya

    I can’t put my finger on what it is, but these photos are particularly gorgeous! It must be the quality of light, the colour palette, maybe the coziness factor? Anyways, love your mindset and writing, love this recipe, sending hugs xx

  • Kelsey

    Do you think this would be good with hot pepper shells made with cayenne? I need to use them and thought maybe it would work?

    • Laura

      Kelsey, by hot pepper shells, do you mean a shell-shaped pasta? If so, I think they would be great in here–a good counterbalance to the sweet butternut squash.

  • Denise

    This soup is fantastic and the balance of flavors is perfect. A hit with the family…. It’s already been requested for ski lunch this winter (in a thermos). I added a sprinkle of sage leaves crisped in brown butter… Love sage!

  • Tiana Matson

    This recipe looks great, I would like to make it without dried chili flakes. I am doubting how it looks like.

  • Christina

    I adore soup season. And your food photography makes this soup look particularly mouthwatering! I love the rich colors and flavors going on here. Gimme Gimme!

  • Sussi

    Hi Laura,
    Another great recipe! Ah the ‘what next’ question… I am always asked that question – after art projects, study and my PhD – I used fuel the anxiety which changed the genuine excitement of the ‘what next’ invitation into dread. Now I give a little smile with a twinkle in my eye, quick raise of the eyebroes and say ‘hmm always lots to choose from – still thinking – I’ll keep you posted’.
    Have you considered having an exhibition of your photographs? For the record I would definitely purchase a large copy of ‘creamy french lentils w/mushrooms + kale’… just thinking aloud
    thanks for your creativity – always

  • Sonja Haag

    I can honestly say that I love you…the person you are, the way you think and communicate and the care you take with everything you do. This post resonated with me a lot. I am about to shift career energies, having worked as both a wedding/portrait photographer and personal chef for over 8 years. I decided to narrow focus on cooking and feeding people and will be saying goodbye to myself as a professional photographer. Something I know is the right choice, but is also scary and sad and stressful and I have been letting in the ‘resentment, stress, overthinking, self-doubt, cynicism, and other distractions’. Especially the distraction of money.
    Thank you for the reminder to take it a day at a time, not needing to be continually drilling someone else’s idea of success into myself.


  • Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek

    This soup is gorgeous Laura! And I love reading your words on taking time to think about what’s next. I constantly find myself doing that to understand if I’m really heading where I want to go. Good luck with the deep thoughts! xoxo

  • Florisch

    I am speechless….
    Love your man and “feed” him like a good foodie. So lovely….a woman loves a man….. what a thrill!How awesome!
    He will love it, and also you.
    Same I do with my wife for some years, still trying to go (30 yrs) to vegan.
    Trying, and keep on trying. Glad I keep on loving her.
    Thanks for your message to the world Laura. Keep on posting!

    Ype, Netherlands, Europe

  • Alexa

    One of my friends did a 365-day photo project one year, and she inspired me to do it the next year. Basically, starting on January 1, you take one photo a day for a full year. Because I’m a writer, I also kept a journal where I’d briefly describe each photograph and what day it went with. That was a project that I found really cool, and I’ve looked back on it again and again; it really allowed me to see the kinds of things I focused my time and energy on, reflect on what was important to me, and realize where there were gaps or missing pieces. It’s a long-haul project, but one I found to be powerful.

  • Sandra Lea

    Made this soup today and it is delicious, perfect for fall. It makes a huge amount which is great for large families or company and for me, freezing it for lunches.

  • Aria

    This looks tasty and delicious!!Thank you for the recipe.

  • Rebecca

    I’m always loving the garden/veggie photos, and how your chard looks so healthy and vibrant! On the mindfulness front, I recently finished Paradise in Plain Sight by Karen Maezen Miller. If you haven’t read it already, you might enjoy given your connection to the land/garden :)

  • Maria

    Oh my gosh! This looks to die for. I LOVED minestrone soup as a kid. The chard in your garden is so impressive!! Chard is one of my absolute favorite foods so I am always on board for adding it to anything and everything. I wish that the chard I grew looked as amazing as the chard you grow though:)

  • Sarah

    Made this last night; its incredible! The fresh sage and thyme make it even better; I’ve never out fresh sage on anything, and now I’ll always want to. Can’t wait to make again!

  • Sarah

    Made this last night and it’s SO delicious. Used a mix of greens instead of just chard

  • Sue Lyn

    hello Laura,
    I live in West Sussex in the U.K. i enjoy making and reading your recipes very much.
    i would say briefly that to find deep spiritual meaning in one’s life, jw.org is a great place to start.
    wishing you a good day, and a fruitful journey,
    best wishes
    Sue Lyn

  • Laine

    This minestrone looks absolutely delicious, Laura! The podcasts that I’ve found inspiring are Good Life Project, The Lively Show and On Being with Krista Tippett. At the moment I’m reading Autobiography of a Yogi which I find really inspiring. Good luck with your inner journey. :)

  • Deborah

    CRUSH IT! NAIL IT! Success always sounds so violent! Sometimes it’s good to just gently Wing It. :) I loved this post. And this minestrone is gorgeous. Thank You!!

  • dana

    um YES. This is STUNNING. WANT!!

  • Laura

    The four agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

  • Rachel @Clean Eating for the Non-Hippie

    Sage + butternut — count me IN!!!!

  • Carrie

    I look so forward to making this.

    And as for the, “what’s next” question…ignore that pressure and follow your inner voice. I think the idea there always has to be something “next” or “better” is so dangerous. It’s not healthy.

    You are an artist of food, a lover of a healthy planet and a recipe creator and sharer. You’ve published a wonderful cookbook that is so happily received. You keep a blog we follow with excitement. You’ve helped people like me and my family/friends find delicious ways to deprioritize meat and focus more on homemade, seasonal, plant-based, restaurant-worthy food…what more does there need to be unless YOU feel an inner-call to pursue it?

    Keep journaling and dreaming and if this is “all” you ever do…it’s pretty freakin’ amazing and impactful!

    Thank you for all you do. Our family eats better and healthier (and picky eaters aren’t so picky anymore) because of you!

    Blessings as we head into 2018.

    • Louise

      two thumbs up to all you’re saying!

  • Lanie

    I love that you have a container of tasting spoons on your counter! This soup looks so good, and I will be trying it soon. Love everything I have made from your lovely cookbook, so this will be as yummy, I’m sure. Thank you for all you do!

  • Kris

    For the spiritual: The Next Right Thing podcast with Emily P. Freeman. Thank you for the recipe, it looks lovely!

  • Amanda

    I love the chickpea and rice stew in your book, so I imagine this is going to be just as delicious!

    I like Katie Dalebout’s Let It Out book for journaling prompts. It really helped me earlier this year to unlock some big blocks that have led to a pretty good period of crushing it. :)

  • june

    This recipe sounds warm, wholesome, filling, just the right intro to the cool weather recipes our bodies crave.
    I would suggest “The Mindful Kind” podcast, Rachel Kable

  • Karlie Kashat

    This look amazing. Good on your man! I’ve been wanting to do a “100 day goal” aka last 100 days of the year focused on meditation and journaling. I’m reading Intuitive Being right now and really enjoying it!