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.

Nancy Baggett

Used by permission. (c) Eating Well, Inc.

Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

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    2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided 6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
    1/2 cup carrot or diced red bell pepper 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
    1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1 large clove garlic, minced 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
    5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth Freshly ground pepper to taste
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram 3/4 cup plain or herbed multigrain croutons for garnish (optional)


    Prep: 30 min Total: 30 min (Quick)
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    • 1

      Heat 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.

    • 2

      With 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.

    • 3

      Combine 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.

    • 4

      Cut 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.

    nutritional information

    6 g
    8 g
    Saturated Fat:
    2 g
    16 g
    18 g
    691 mg
    Monounsaturated Fat:
    4 g
    1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat
    29 g
    Carbohydrate Servings:
    529 mg
    Nutrition Bonus:
    Vitamin A (110% daily value), Folate & Vitamin C (20% dv).
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