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Top view of a cast iron Dutch oven filled with chicken white bean soup with kale.

30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup

  • Author: Nicole Gaffney (
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: soup
  • Method: simmered
  • Cuisine: Italian


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.


  • 1/2 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
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • juice of 1 lemon


  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. 


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

Keywords: Italian, pesto, chicken, kale, white bean, cannellini, great northern beans, soup