Italian Vegetable Soup with Orzo and Pesto

by TGC Staff | December 6, 2011 12:00 am


It may be gray and cold outside, but this soup can add color and warmth to the season. It features mini pasta and a medley of vegetables all enhanced by pesto. It's satisfying and healthy.

The combination of basil and spinach gives the pesto an understated, but distinct taste. It's similar to a paste the ancient Romans prepared using cheese, garlic and herbs. The more recent version is said to have originated near the Italian city of Genoa and adds basil as a major ingredient.

The addition of pesto maximizes the flavor of the soup, bringing together the hearty quality of the broth and soft onion taste of the leeks. The carrots add color and consistency. The cannellini beans, a variety of white beans popular in Italy, especially Tuscany, add protein and a dash of red pepper adds a bit of zest.

Easy to prepare, the soup becomes a complete lunch or light dinner by adding a slice or two of crusty whole-wheat bread. Or, if you have any leftover baked chicken or turkey, you could make a sandwich to enjoy with the soup. Either will provide a nutritious meal with a healthy serving of vegetables and a good amount of fiber. So chase away the cold with something hot and colorful.

Italian Vegetable Soup with Orzo and Pesto

Makes 6 servings.


Soup Ingredients:


  1. Puree all pesto ingredients in food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Cover and refrigerate if made the day before
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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


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