Pesto Chicken and “Rice” Soup

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By now, it’s probably becoming clear that I will put pesto in just about anything. So of course, I put a healthy dollop of pesto in this soup recipe. But it is just the flavor punch that a run-of-the-mill chicken soup needs. If you have something against basil, parmesan, or olive oil, don’t bother reading any further (just kidding).

Nothing soothes the soul like soup and this winter weather calls for soup and it’s what I’ve been craving all winter long. This hearty chicken and vegetable soup is the best of both worlds – a hearty, yet healthy medley of fresh vegetables and chicken. Guilt-free comfort food is not an oxymoron anymore!

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Ingredients:

  • 10 oz riced cauliflower
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bag frozen peas (rinsed and drained)
  • 3 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 3 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup pesto (see recipe below)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Simple Pesto Recipe:

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic

*Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until you achieve a relatively smooth consistency. For a runnier pesto, you can blend the ingredients longer, but I prefer mine to be more of a paste/salsa consistency.

Preparation:

  1. In a large pot, add the carrots and celery over medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. As the stove heats up, take this time to rinse and drain the frozen peas in a colander/mesh strainer and set them aside.
  3. Cook the carrots and celery for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften, before adding the minced garlic into the pot. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to move the garlic around in the pot to release its flavor until fragrant. The goal is not to brown the garlic, but just to cook down its raw flavor.
  4. Then, add the peas, chicken broth, water, thyme, rosemary, and pesto to the pot, stirring until the ingredients are fully combined.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil and then, reduce to a simmer and add the uncooked chicken breasts to the pot. Cover and cook the chicken for 25-30 minutes, until it is fully cooked.
  6. Remove both chicken breasts from the pot onto a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the chicken breasts and add back into the soup.
  7. Allow the soup to simmer for another 15 minutes before removing from heat. Before serving, be sure to remove the sprig of rosemary and any additional leaves that may have fallen off while the soup cooked.

This soup is just what you’ll crave the next time it rains outside and you curl up in a blanket. Top it with parmesan and serve with a toasted baguette, or simply enjoy it on its own! The soup will store in the fridge for up to a week and tastes even better the day after you make it!

xo,

Grace

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