Chicken and White Bean Soup with Herb Pesto

(courtesy of Colin Smith, chef and owner of Roundabout Grill and Roundabout Catering & Party Rentals in Reno. Makes 8 appetizer servings or 4 entrée servings)

Finished 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup leeks, diced to ½ inch
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2, 16-ounce cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup water
4 cans plum tomatoes, drained
1, 14-ounce can fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
3 packed cups baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
2, 8-ounce skinless chicken breasts, diced to ¼ inch
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1, 2-inch piece Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons pickled cherry peppers, julienne cut
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as tarragon, chopped

Place all ingredients into slow cooker except spinach. Set to high, and cook 2 hours. After 2 hours, add spinach and cook 20 more minutes. Add more stock if needed. Serve soup in a bowl with a dollop of fresh pesto (recipe below). Top pesto with pickled cherry peppers and fresh herbs to garnish.

For Pesto

½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 garlic clove
2 cups fresh basil
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend 90 seconds.




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