30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup

This 30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup is the perfect cozy recipe to whip up on a cold night when you want something healthy and easy.

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Hands cupping a bowl of chicken white bean soup.

Call it a hunch, but I think you're really going to love this recipe for Pesto Chicken, Kale and White Bean Soup. For starters, it's easy. Like, really easy. It's made with basic pantry staples like chicken stock (or turkey stock and canned beans, and comes together from start to finish in an astonishing 30 minutes. This soup was made with busy weeknights in mind.

Top view of a cast iron Dutch oven filled with chicken white bean soup with kale.
Close up of a bowl of chicken white bean soup with carrots and kale.

Last month I asked my Instagram and Facebook followers what kinds of recipes they'd like to see more of, and the overwhelming response was easy and healthy dinners. I've been on a mission to fulfill that request ever since, and I think this recipe fits the bill perfectly.

In such a short amount of time, this Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup manages to develop an impressive depth of flavor. It's a flavor that reminds me of summer, despite that this recipe was clearly made with winter in mind. The scent of homemade pesto buzzing away in the food processor always brings me back to the warm sunshiny days when I had a never-ending supply of fresh basil growing in my garden. It stings a little to have to buy basil from the grocery store this time of year, but for this soup, it's totally worth it.

Top view and vertical shot of a bowl of pesto chicken kale soup.
Angled shot of a bowl of chicken kale white bean soup that has carrots and celery.

In addition to this being a crazy easy and crazy delicious meal to whip up, it's also crazy healthy. It's high in protein thanks to the chicken and beans, and chock full of veggies, like carrots, celery onions and kale, plus there's no shortage of pungent garlic, which is known to possess magical illness-fighting powers.

Unlike the last pot of soup I made, this one definitely begs to be served with a piece of crusty bread or cheesy toast, but if you've been following along with me lately you know that I've been avoiding that stuff like the plague. Needless to say, I served this Pesto Chicken, Kale and White Bean Soup sans bread, and Chaser and I both enjoyed it just fine. While it certainly would have benefitted from a freshly baked hunk of baguette, it truly didn't need it, and that is quite a feat.

Top view of a cast iron Dutch oven with bubbling pesto chicken soup that has kale, carrots, and white beans.
Top view of a bowl of chicken kale soup that has Parmesan on top.

If you're hunkering down for a storm or just want a delicious, easy and healthy dinner to add to your repertoire, this recipe is one you absolutely don't want to miss.

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Four Years Ago: South Beach Food + Wine Fest 2015

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Top view of a cast iron Dutch oven filled with chicken white bean soup with kale.
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30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup

This 30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup is the perfect cozy recipe to whip up on a cold night when you want something healthy and easy.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 5 servings
Calories: 847kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (plus 1 tablespoon) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow or Spanish onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced, plus 1-2 cloves for pesto*
  • 2 quarts chicken stock homemade or boxed
  • 2 cans white beans cannelloni or great northern, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts about 2 medium
  • 1 bunch kale I used Tuscan/lacinato but any variety works, tough stems removed and cut or torn into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts not toasted
  • 3 packed cups fresh basil
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. 
  2. Add the chicken stock and white beans, stir, then submerge the chicken breasts. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. 
  3. While the chicken cooks, make the pesto. Add 1 large or 2 smaller cloves garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped, then add the pine nuts and basil. Continue pulsing as you slowly stream in the olive oil. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse a few more times until everything is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  4. Remove the chicken breasts and let cool, then use two forks to shred into bite sized pieces. Add the chicken back to the pot along with the kale, stir, then cover and cook just a few minutes more until the kale is wilted.
  5. Stir in the pesto and lemon juice, then ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with more grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, then serve it piping hot. 

Notes

*Use 1 large clove to make the pesto or 2 if smaller. 

Nutrition

Calories: 847kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 56g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 36g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 766mg | Potassium: 1498mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 5306IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 196mg | Iron: 6mg
This 30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup is the perfect cozy recipe to whip up on a cold night when you want something healthy and easy. Gluten free, fresh and delicious! #easy #chicken #soup #recipe #pesto #beans #kale #healthy #glutenfree | ColeyCooks.com
This 30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup is the perfect cozy recipe to whip up on a cold night when you want something healthy and easy. Gluten free, fresh and delicious! #easy #chicken #soup #recipe #pesto #beans #kale #healthy #glutenfree | ColeyCooks.com
5 from 8 votes

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15 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious! I used store bought pesto, otherwise did not change a thing. Thank you for an easy, nutritious and yummy soup.

  2. 5 stars
    This soup is one of my all-time favs! It's easy to make and so warming and hearty without being heavy. Shared with some friends who also raved about it. Can't wait to make it again!

  3. 5 stars
    This is my GO TO soup recipe of Coley's for when:

    1. I haven't been eating the healthiest and want something filling and nutritious that is filling and light. It's perfect!
    2. Those cold and rainy evenings. Nothing like cozying on the couch with a bowl of this soup
    3. When I know I have a busy week ahead and don't have time to cook every meal.

  4. 5 stars
    My new go to soup! Easy, quick and SO FLAVORFUL! My husband is not a soup fan, however this soup did not last long in our house! The pesto is genius!

  5. 5 stars
    I made this *almost* as written, but with just a couple of shortcuts - I used a rotisserie chicken (and the drippings!) and some packaged pesto that tastes just like my homemade pesto and shredded carrots. The recipe came together quickly but tasted like it had been simmering for hours. This was such a fragrant and flavorful soup and I have two quarts in my freezer for the cold days to come. Thanks for sharing!

  6. 5 stars
    This looks fantastic, but did I miss the part where you make the pesto? I assume the garlic , olive oil, basil , Parmesan and pine nuts get whirred in a food processor? Thanks.