Chicken and Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto



2 tsp plus 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 cup carrot or diced red bell pepper

1 large boneless, skinless, chicken breast cut into quarters

1 large garlic clove, minced

5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 tsp marjoram

6 oz baby spinach, coarsely chopped

1 15 oz can 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

3/4 cup plain or herbed multigrain croutons for garnish (optional)



1.  Heat 2 tsp oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add carrot (or bell pepper) and chicken;  cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.  Stir in broth and marjoram;  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 flavors.

3.  Combine the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, parmesan, and basil in a food processor.  Process until a course paste forms, adding a little water and scraping down the sides as necessary.

4.  Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.  Stir the chicken and pesto in the pot.  Season with pepper.  Heat until hot.  Garnish with croutons if desired.



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