Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

77 Reviews
From: EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016

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.

Ingredients 5 servings

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Original recipe yields 5 servings
Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
  • 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
  • 1½ 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)


  • Active

  • Ready In

  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.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 1½ cups
  • Per serving: 226 calories; 9 g fat(2 g sat); 6 g fiber; 18 g carbohydrates; 19 g protein; 77 mcg folate; 28 mg cholesterol; 2 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 3,866 IU vitamin A; 29 mg vitamin C; 93 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 211 mg sodium; 525 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (77% daily value), Vitamin C (48% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 1
  • Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat

Reviews 77

November 14, 2019
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By: Jackstng
Deserves it's 5 stars. It's tasty, easy to make and visually colorful and beautiful. Everyone loved it !
January 13, 2019
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By: Terra McClung
This is YUMMMAZING! within a hour or 2 it was completely gone even the soup! The flavors are very savory the soup alone could be its own dish without the chicken. I followed the directions to the letter, and didn't change a thing.
January 09, 2019
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By: Scarlett Wu
I just made this last night and i love it so much. I also used the same ingredients to make a salad box and bring to office today.
November 11, 2018
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By: Linicha Hunter
This was great hubbie enjoyed. The only thing is I will probably put 4 cups of broth.
February 06, 2018
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By: SandyP.
Another wonderful soup! Tastes good even without the pesto.
January 14, 2018
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By: Nicole Bauman
It was great! I used both the carrots and the peppers. Turned out wonderfully.
January 06, 2018
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By: Karen Phelps
Amazing soup!! I added 2 cans of beans, more carrots, more broth to bulk it up. Didn't have pesto so used more dried basil and added dried tarragon. Sprinkled shredded romano on top of the bowl of soup. Added just a touch of salt and pepper to the whole soup.
May 08, 2017
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By: rnewmie
This was a huge hit and simple to make! I doubled the garlic and used store bought pesto from Trader Joes and that worked well.
April 18, 2017
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By: Gari
This was very good and quick. The herbs transformed the canned broth into a full-flavored dimensional soup. I used quick cooking farro instead of barley. Farro holds up really well in soups and doesn't expand and soak up as much soup as barley. Instead of making the pesto as directed, I dropped in a cube of the Dorot brand frozen basil, added grated parmesan--such a quick workaround.
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