January 20, 2016

Garden Vegetable Pesto Chicken Soup

Garden Vegetable Pesto Chicken Soup | The Naptime Chef

Over the past month I’ve basically become obsessed with Panera Bread’s Garden Vegetable Pesto soup. I’ve eaten it several times in our town, and ate it every day for lunch last week when I was taking the WSET Level 2 course in New York. It is a riot of fresh flavor packed into a single bowl, it manages to be hearty, yet refreshing because of all the sharp sweet basil and tomato flavors. This is easily my new favorite soup for winter, but in the interest of my wallet I decided it was time I learned how to make my own version home.

Since I am still working hard on my winter pantry experiment the first place I turned for soup ingredients was my cupboards. The soup has a tomato and chicken broth base, both of which I had on hand. I also decided to use up some of my pasta so I grabbed a half-used bag of tubettini. In the fridge I had carrots and a zucchini, and in the freezer there was a tray of frozen pesto cubes. The only thing I needed to buy to get the soup off the ground was fresh chicken and an onion. Perfect.

This soup came together very quickly on the stovetop and was ready in under thirty minutes. I let it simmer on low heat for a little bit to let the flavors marry. Next time I might even make it in advance and chill it for a day in the fridge. Unlike the Panera recipe, mine did not contain beans, chard, cauliflower, or barley. However, I added in carrots, onions, extra tomatoes, chicken, and pasta. We loved the flavor and it did a good job helping me clean out my fridge and cupboard. Next time I might add in more vegetables depending on what I have on hand, and you should add whatever you prefer. I think mushrooms and broccoli would taste amazing!

With a little garnish of Parmesan this was the perfect hot soup to enjoy on a cold winter evening. I am glad I know how to make it now so I don’t have to run to Panera every time I have a craving and break the bank.

Garden Vegetable Pesto Chicken Soup

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 cups

This is my version of the vegetable soup. Feel free to add more vegetables as you'd like. You may have to add more broth as needed if you add in a significant amount of extra vegetables.

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  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto (or 2 frozen ice cubes worth of pesto)
  • ½ cup tubettini or similar small shaped pasta
  • Parmesan cheese for serving


  1. In a large stockpot warm some olive oil and add the onions, carrots, and zucchini. Sauté over medium-high heat until the carrots, onions, and zucchini are softened, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  2. Add the chicken and cook it for several minutes, stirring frequently, until all the pieces are cooked through. Then pour in the white wine, deglaze the pan, and let the wine simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Then lower the soup to a simmer and add the pesto, stirring until it is completely incorporated.
  4. About 10 minutes before serving, add the pasta and bring the soup back to a low boil. Once it is completely cooked, serve with a garnish of Parmesan cheese.


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