Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

Yield: 5 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each

Servings: 5

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

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.

Recipe Ingredients:

  1. 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  2. 1/2 cup carrot or diced red bell pepper
  3. 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters
  4. 1 large clove garlic, minced
  5. 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  7. 6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  8. 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
  9. 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  10. 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  11. Freshly ground pepper to taste
  12. 3/4 cup plain or herbed multigrain croutons for garnish (optional)

Recipe Steps:

  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.

Recipe Nutrition:

Per serving: 204 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 29 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 18 g protein; 6 g fiber; 691 mg sodium; 529 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (110% daily value), Folate & Vitamin C (20% dv)

1/2 Carbohydrate Servings

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat