Italian Vegetable Soup with Orzo and Pesto

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December 4, 2012 | Issue 429

Pesto Pasta Soup

Italian Vegetable Soup with Orzo and Pesto

Chase away the cold with a hot, healthy serving of vegetables in this filling soup. Full of winter staples like carrots, potatoes and beans, this recipe boasts 7 grams of fiber per serving. Research has shown that eating plant foods rich in dietary fiber can help lower risk for colorectal cancer. Get an extra boost of nutrition and flavor with this homemade pesto featuring a blend of basil and spinach.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving : 300 calories, 10 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 42 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 7 g dietary fiber, 200 mg sodium.

Pesto Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, packed
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained (fresh may be substituted)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • 2 leeks, white parts only, chopped (1 bunch of green onions may be substituted)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 medium white potato, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth*
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1/2-inch slices (can also use frozen cut)
  • 1 (15-oz.) can no-salt added cannellini beans
  • 1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. low-fat shredded Romano cheese (Parmesan cheese may be substituted)


  1. Puree all pesto ingredients in food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Cover and refrigerate if made the day before
  3. In large pot combine leeks, carrots, potato, broth and Italian seasoning. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are almost tender, 8-10 minutes. Add orzo and boil uncovered until orzo is almost tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add green beans, cannellini and red pepper, cover and simmer 5-7 minutes.
  4. Ladle soup into 6 bowls. Divide pesto among servings and swirl in to blend. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

*May need additional broth to thin soup if it is to be reheated.

Holiday test kitchen

Holiday Recipes
from AICR's Test Kitchen


Grocery list

Fresh baby spinach
Fresh basil leaves
Pine nuts
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Low-sodium vegetable broth
Italian seasoning
Green beans
No-salt added cannellini beans
Dried crushed red pepper
Low-fat shredded Romano cheese

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