Vegan Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard - The First Messpin it!Vegan Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard - The First Messpin it!Garden chard - The First Messpin it!Vegan Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard - The First Messpin it!
My man 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 every single day that I get to love him, but mostly? I’m just grateful that he’s not a picky eater. 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 temptation that goes along with that.

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 is the first thing I properly made him on this plant-based journey. Spoilers: he loved it. It has all the usual minestrone bits like garlic, chili, tomatoes, and heaps of vegetables, but I give it a few autumnal twists and turns with diced butternut squash, lots of sage, and chopped chard for a touch of green. Familiar, but still exciting.

Mark’s commitment to this change has had me thinking and journaling about what goals I want to manifest as we close out the year. I always have faith that the universe will flow its graces/lessons into the areas that need it at just the right time. Sometimes life is incredibly full, and I don’t make the time to meditate on this idea. As the days go on without quiet time for reflection, it becomes easier for resentment, stress, overthinking, self-doubt, cynicism, and other distractions to creep in. I believe that you have to pursue a certain level of mental agility and clarity to truly see what you want out of life before you can really go for it. There’s a recognition of self-imposed barriers that needs to take place.

My book’s been out for a while and I’m ever-so-slowly getting into some kind of routine with this site. When I see family members or friends I haven’t ran into in a while, I typically get the “What’s next?” question and I have no clue what to say. I feel like there’s this pressure in the online wellness and creative content worlds to constantly be killing/crushing it, to keep lining up and knocking out all the things. I’ve tried to take on work life with this kind of pace, but I’m the type of person that needs to stop and think about the why of my next move surprisingly often, even with small things.

So while my man is changing his physical/dietary life a bit, I’m embarking on a stretch of deep mental and spiritual work so that I can set clearer goals for bigger truth in my life. It feels like a ripe time to cut away the hang-ups. My “deep work toolbox” is basically whatever form of meditation I can work into my days, cutting down on caffeine and alcohol considerably, reading as much relevant material as I can, and journaling to the point of hand cramps. Open to any suggestions on books, new mindfulness techniques, podcasts, or any other resources you’ve found helpful on your own journey. Let me know in the comments or in an email, whatever works ;) xo

Vegan Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard - The First Messpin it!Vegan Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard - The First Messpin it!Stuffing the greens in - The First messpin it!Vegan Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard - The First Messpin it!Vegan Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas & Chard - The First Messpin it!

Print the recipe here!
NOTES: 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!

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 28oz can crushed tomatoes
7 cups vegetable stock
½ cup dry, small pasta
1 bunch of chard, leaves chopped

In a large, (5.25 quart or large) 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.

  • Karlie Kashat11/10/2017 - 7:07 am

    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!ReplyCancel

  • june11/10/2017 - 7:44 am

    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 KableReplyCancel

  • Amanda11/10/2017 - 8:46 am

    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. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kris11/10/2017 - 10:01 am

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

  • Lanie11/10/2017 - 11:12 am

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie11/10/2017 - 12:47 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

    • Louise11/10/2017 - 4:04 pm

      two thumbs up to all you’re saying!ReplyCancel

  • Sage + butternut — count me IN!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Laura11/10/2017 - 2:29 pm

    The four agreements, by Don Miguel RuizReplyCancel

  • dana11/10/2017 - 2:44 pm

    um YES. This is STUNNING. WANT!!ReplyCancel

  • Deborah11/10/2017 - 3:44 pm

    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!!ReplyCancel

  • Laine11/10/2017 - 4:06 pm

    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. :)ReplyCancel

  • Sue Lyn12/10/2017 - 4:38 pm

    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 LynReplyCancel

  • Sarah13/10/2017 - 12:33 am

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

  • Sarah13/10/2017 - 12:35 am

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Maria13/10/2017 - 10:29 am

    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:)ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca13/10/2017 - 11:41 pm

    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 :)ReplyCancel

  • Aria14/10/2017 - 1:42 am

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

  • Sandra Lea14/10/2017 - 3:00 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

  • Alexa16/10/2017 - 12:09 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

  • Florisch16/10/2017 - 4:26 pm

    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, EuropeReplyCancel

  • Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek17/10/2017 - 6:27 am

    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! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Sonja Haag17/10/2017 - 6:10 pm

    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.


  • Sussi17/10/2017 - 8:39 pm

    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 – alwaysReplyCancel

  • Christina18/10/2017 - 5:52 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Tiana Matson19/10/2017 - 6:18 pm

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

  • Denise21/10/2017 - 10:53 am

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey22/10/2017 - 1:25 pm

    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?ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/10/2017 - 1:53 pm

      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.

  • Maya22/10/2017 - 3:47 pm

    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 xxReplyCancel

  • […] Butternut Minestrone with Sage, Chickpeas, and Chard from The First Mess Spicy Squash Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing from Martha Stewart  Fennel Butternut + Squash Miso Soup from Kale + Caramel  Acorn Squash Fries With Chipotle Dip from YumUniverse  Stuffed Spaghetti Squash from Love & Lemons  Roasted Butternut Squash and Udon Noodles With Cilantro-Tahini Sauce from Naturally Ella  Honeynut Squash with Radicchio and Miso from Bon Appetit  Spicy Peanut Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas from Oh, Ladycakes  Butternut Squash Dal from Jamie Oliver  Delicata Squash Bake With Tahini Sauce from Minimalist Baker  Oven-Roasted Squash With Garlic + Parsley from Eating Well  Roasted Kabocha with Maple Syrup and Ginger from Food + Wine  Roasted Butternut Squash Taco from Cookie + Kate  […]ReplyCancel

  • Smadar04/11/2017 - 7:58 pm

    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 :)ReplyCancel

  • Greg07/11/2017 - 4:49 am

    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 doneReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth11/11/2017 - 6:41 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Cyndi K15/11/2017 - 8:55 pm

    Really enjoyed this twist on minestrone. Thanks Laura!ReplyCancel

  • Chrissie16/11/2017 - 1:05 pm

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

  • Janel Barthe31/12/2017 - 6:07 pm

    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 tooReplyCancel

    • Laura01/01/2018 - 12:48 pm

      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 :)

  • Molly Bollier29/11/2018 - 8:47 pm

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

  • […] couple of weeks ago I found a classic old family recipe for minestrone soup. My mum used to cook this soup at home as it is full of delicious vegetables. Sometimes she […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Vegan Butternut Minestrone […]ReplyCancel

  • Jess24/09/2019 - 4:00 pm

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

  • Samantha10/10/2019 - 7:56 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Britt21/10/2019 - 4:34 pm

    Any idea if this freezes well?ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/10/2019 - 7:34 am

      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.

  • LS21/02/2020 - 12:13 pm

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

    • Laura25/02/2020 - 2:51 pm

      Never too late! So glad you enjoyed it :)

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