Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto


This fragrant, Italian-flavored soup takes advantage of quick-cooking ingredients–boneless, skinless chicken breast, bagged baby spinach and canned beans. It features a simple homemade basil pesto swirled in at the end to add a fresh herb flavor. If you are very pressed for time, you can substitute 3 to 4 tablespoons of a store-bought basil pesto.

Recipe by Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.


Ingredient Checklist


  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • ½ cup carrot or diced red bell pepper
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters 
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • ⅓ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup plain or herbed multigrain croutons for garnish (optional)


Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrot (or bell pepper) and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

  • Step 2With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

  • Step 3Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan and basil in a food processor (a mini processor works well). Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water and scraping down the sides as necessary.

  • Step 4Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with croutons, if desired.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: About 1 1/2 Cups Per Serving: 227 calories; protein 19.4g; carbohydrates 18g; dietary fiber 6g; sugars 1.7g; fat 9.1g; saturated fat 2g; cholesterol 28.5mg; vitamin a iu 3865.7IU; vitamin c 29.4mg; folate 76.7mcg; calcium 92.8mg; iron 2.1mg; magnesium 43.7mg; potassium 524.6mg; sodium 211.4mg; thiamin 0.1mg. Exchanges: 

1 Starch, 1 Vegetable, 2 Lean Meat, 1 Fat


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