Soups are a great way to not only warm up in the winter, but also to help you re-set your digestion and health after a any period of time of less than perfect eating. For me, it was a cruise I went on with my family recently where it was sometimes difficult to eat as healthy as I would like! My digestion definitely felt it when I returned. So, I decided to make some healthy soups full of vegetables and fibre, this one and a Minestrone, to help me re-set.
This particular soup is Italian-flavoured and takes advantage of quick cooking ingredients, such as chicken breast and bagged spinach. It would be great to make on a week night as it doesn’t take much prep time. It is low in calories and fat. It also gives you a significant amount of fibre and iron due to the beans and spinach. Carrots help add vitamin A (in the form of Beta Carotene) and the capsicum is very high in Vitamin C, both great for fighting off those winter colds.
- 2 tsp Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ cup Carrots
- ½ cup Diced capsicum
- 2 Large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 460g total) cut into large pieces
- 3 Large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Whole onion
- 5 cups Reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ tsp Dried Italian herbs
- ¾ cup Baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 2 x 450g tins Cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
- ¼ cup Grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup Lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- - Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add carrots, capsicum and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
- Stir in broth and Italian herbs; bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- 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.
- 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. You can also use bottled pesto if you don't want to make your own.
- Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot, seasoning with pepper and heat until hot.
- Garnish with croutons, if desired.