Chicken and Spinach Soup with Pesto

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-flavored 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.

Chicken and Spinach Soup with Pesto (adapted from Eatingwell.com)chicken pesto

Makes: 5 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Prep Time: 
Total Time: 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup each of carrots and 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 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
  • 3/4 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 2- 450g cans of cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPARATION

  1. 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.
  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. You can also use bottled pesto if you don’t want to make your own.
  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: great source of Vitamin A, Folate, Fiber, and Vitamin C.

Gluten-free, low calorie, low fat.