Pesto Chicken Noodle Soup

It's the time of year for soups to warm us inside and out. It's also the time of year for cold season, and if you're anything like me, when I get sick my taste buds lose their power. I always want strong flavors and typically like any soup that has garlic added to it. Of course, the classic soup used as a cold remedy is chicken noodle, which can be sort of bland. Though I prepared this version of chicken noodles soup when everyone in the house was healthy (knock on wood), I knew it would be the perfect change from traditional chicken noodle soup. This version, spiked with zesty pesto and garlic, not only provides flavor but vegetables full of vitamins, good for an ailing patient or perhaps anyone who just stepped out of the cold. Instead of egg noodles, I used ditalini, which are little thimble pasta (and unfortunately none managed to be seen in any of my pictures, but trust me they're there).

Pesto Chicken Noodle Soup
Printable Recipe

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 lb bone-less, skin-less chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)
1 packed cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
3 tbsp basil pesto sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large soup pot heated over medium heat, add the oil, then the bell pepper, chicken, onion, and garlic. Saute all the ingredients until the chicken is browned and the vegetables are tender; season with salt and pepper.
2. Pour in the broth along with the tomatoes and beans. Bring the heat to high until the soup comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes, giving a chance for the chicken too cook completely through and the flavors to combine.
3. Bring the soup back to a boil and add the pasta, and cook as long as the package recommends. About 3 minutes before the pasta has completed its cooking time, add the pesto and gently stir until it dissolves, then add the spinach. Once the pasta is tender and the spinach has wilted, the soup is finished.

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