Soup is by far one of my favorite things to make. Not only do you get to stir it around in a big pot, cackling all the while like a character from Hocus Pocus, but it's also delicious, nutritious (usually), and serves you for days.
I took the original recipe for "Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto" from the October 2009 issue of EatingWell, and then changed it - like I do.
You might like their version, but personally - having tried theirs as written last year - mine is yummier. So there.
Chunky Pesto Chicken Soup
(makes ~5 servings)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
2 carrots, chopped
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (weighing ~14 oz), cut into quarters
2 large cloves garlic
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1.5 tsp dried marjoram
~8 oz baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and chopped
1 15-oz can great northern beans, rinsed
~1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
~1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
~3 inch parmesan rind
~2 tsp salt
~2 tsp freshly ground pepper, more to taste
Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add chopped carrot and quartered chicken; cook, turning the chicken until it begins to brown (about 4 minutes). Add garlic and stir together until the chicken is seared on one side (another 1-2 minutes). Remove the cooked chicken with a pair of tongs to a clean cutting board. You are now done with your sauce pan.
Into a medium stock pot over medium heat, pour your chicken broth and add the marjoram. Stir. Now add the garlic and carrots from the saucepan to the soup. Stir. Add the chopped spinach and rinsed beans and chopped celery to the soup. Add ~2 tsp salt and 2 tsp fresh ground pepper. Stir all together, mixing well. Then drop your parmesan rind in and let it start to soak out into the soup. Set the heat to low, and remember to stir occasionally.
Now to make the pesto sauce. You will need a food processor for this portion of the program. [If you don't have one, you can just buy pesto from the store, but it'll be saltier than you want, so I would recommend not adding the salt to the soup earlier.] This pesto, by the way, is delicious, and would also go nicely over pasta or warm french bread. :)
Combine 1 tbsp olive oil, grated parmesan, basil, and pine nuts in the food processor and process until a coarse paste forms.
There. You're done.
Return to that chicken you left your cutting board. Cut it into little bite sized pieces and add it back into the soup. Spoon out all of the pesto you just made and add that to the soup as well. Stir over medium heat for 4-6 minutes, or until hot.
Before you serve, remember to spoon around in the soup and find the parmesan rind. It has served its purpose now and can be tossed.
This soup is yummy, warm, and really hits the spot. Lots of protein and iron in this one. Enjoy!
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