Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

69 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
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  • 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 69

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.
February 15, 2017
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By: AmyJo
Will definitely be making again! Delicious--only added a little bit more chicken (2 medium breasts).
September 08, 2016
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By: Brent S
Very good. The only changes I made were to increase the amount of carrots / bell pepper, and the amount of garlic.
August 28, 2016
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By: brava313
This recipe was quick and easy but so bland and boring that it wasn't worth even the small effort it took to make it. It needed more salt, for one thing.
September 28, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Flavorful Hearty Soup I love how easy and versatile this soup is! I brown Italian turkey sausage first, remove it from the pan, and then use the grease to brown an onion with 2 red bell peppers instead of using carrots. I then add the garlic and then the broth, but use about 2 cups more than called for to keep it soupy enough with all my additions. I also sub kale for spinach sometimes depending on the sales, and the beans are always a welcome ingredient. I also use store bought pesto, about 2-3 tbs, when basil isn't fresh at the store during the winter. Basically, this soup can be made into what you want and it's always great on a cool fall day for lunch or as a hearty dinner with bread on the side on a cold winter evening! Pros: Healthy, Full of Veggies, Easy
January 14, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Fresh, healthy and full of flavor! This soup is awesome! I added both carrots and red pepper for color and more veggies although it only called for adding one or the other. Otherwise made exactly as directed. The fresh basil pesto is key! Drained and rinsed the beans before adding to reduce the sodium. Yum, yum, yum!! Pros: Easy
November 18, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
SO easy and SO good! This soup was awesome. So easy & quick. I made the pesto first to avoid stepping away while everything was on the stove and it worked out perfectly! Pros: Healthy, clean, fast, easy, cheap
February 24, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
This is such a great soup! I have now made this soup for 3 weeks straight. I stuck to the recipe which is so easy to follow and quick to make. When the first batch was gone, I found myself wanting to taste the flavors again, so I made it again and again and yes, today, again! I find soup is a good way to get veggies and helps me stick to my healthy eating habits. I do use buillion and broth which is a great combo, and add extra water to fill it out a bit. It freezes great too! Going to have a bowl now. Yum! Pros: Light, flavorful, filling
January 29, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
Quick cooking time Delicious! Just had for dinner. Skipped croutons. Had French bread on the side. Didn't have marjarom, used dried basil instead. Used fresh basil for pesto. Pros: Healthy, delicious, doesn't take hours to cook, good looking Cons: Little bit of prep time chopping, grating