This fragrant, Italian-flavored soup takes advantage of quick-cooking ingredients–boneless, skinless chicken breast, bagged baby spinach and canned beans. To add fresh herb flavor, a simple homemade basil pesto is added at the end. You can substitute between 3 and 4 tablespoons of store-bought basil pesto if you’re short on time. Recipe by Nancy Baggett, Eating Well.
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 8.2 ounces), cut in quarters
1 large clove garlic, minced
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 ½ 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)
Step 1 Over medium heat, heat 2 teaspoons oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cook the carrot or bell pepper and the chicken until it starts to brown. Stir in garlic. Cook for one minute more. Bring to a boil on high heat. Stir in broth, marjoram, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
Step 2 Transfer the chicken pieces onto a cutting board. Bring the beans and spinach to a gentle boil in a large pot. Allow the flavors to combine for five minutes.
Step 3 In a food processor, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil with Parmesan and basil. A mini processor is also a good choice. Add a little water to form a paste. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Step 4 Divide the chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a large pot, combine the pesto and chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Heat until hot. If desired, garnish with croutons
Serving size: About 1 1/2 cups Exchanges 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat