Chicken Minestrone with Basil Pesto

Use leftover chicken for this recipe, or quickly poach a few chicken breasts: How to Poach Chicken Breasts, the Quick and Easy Way.

Leftover soup will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. It also freezes well, and can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Vegetarian Variation: Skip the chicken, and add cubes of potatoes and some thinly sliced cabbage. Use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 ribs celery, diced small
  • 3 medium carrots, diced small
  • 2 small (12 ounces) zucchini, diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juices
  • 6 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 cup small pasta, such as small shells, ditalini, or ancini di pepe,
  • 2 handfuls (8 ounces) green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought


1 Cook the vegetables: In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, celery, carrots, zucchini, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Chicken Minestrone with Basil Pesto Chicken Minestrone with Basil Pesto

2 Crush the tomatoes in a bowl: Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl. Using your hands, a dinner fork, or a potato masher, crush the tomatoes into small pieces.

Chicken Minestrone with Basil Pesto

3 Simmer the soup: Add the beans, crushed tomatoes and stock or water to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 8 minutes. Add the green beans and the pasta and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir in the shredded chicken and cook for another minute, or until the soup is hot all the way through.

Taste the soup and add more salt and black pepper to taste.

If you haven't already done so, make your pesto while the soup simmers.

4 Serve the soup: Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a few spoonfuls of pesto.