Vegetable Chicken Soup with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

This week, being conscious of our expanding diets, I visited the farmers’ market to pick up carrots, leeks, fingerling potatoes, zucchini and basil. The local grocery store yielded a few out of season tomatoes. The taste will probably be pale, but I’ll add a bit of balsamic vinegar to sweeten them back to their sweet destiny. I’ve been consciously avoiding starches and sugar; justifying my consummation of a cornucopia worth of food. Below is a recipe for Veggie Chicken soup. It’s light and tasty until heavy Thursday arrives.

Vegetable Chicken Soup with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

Three recipes are below: Tomato Purée, Basil Pesto, and the Soup

Recipe for Fresh Tomato Purée

Ingredients for Tomato Purée

  • 6 to 8 tomatoes, unpeeled
  • balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. of sugar, more or less to taste

Directions for Tomato Purée

  1. In a pot of boiling water, add whole tomatoes. When the skin begins to peel, remove from pot.
  2. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skin from the tomatoes.
  3. Place tomatoes in a food processor and puree until smooth. Depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and sugar to taste.
  4. Set tomato purée aside until ready to use in the directions below.

Recipe for Basil Pesto

Ingredients for Basil Pesto

  • 1/4 cup walnuts or pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. white wine
  • 2 to 3 c. of basil leaves
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 4 oz. of parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. olive oil

Directions for Basil Pesto

  1. Place all ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor and puree until the ingredients are roughly chopped.
  2. While the processor is running, slowly add olive oil.
  3. Continue to process until “chunky smooth” texture.
  4. Set Basil Pesto aside until ready to use in the directions below.

Put it All Together: Vegetable Chicken Soup with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil Pesto


  • 2 to 3 tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 lb. of skinless, boneless chicken; seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 leeks, sliced; discard stemmed ends and a little of the roughly torn green top, throughly wash several times to remove gritty dirt
  • 1 roughly chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 to 3 carrots, diagonally sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced/crushed
  • 1 to 2 c. of sliced fingerling potatoes (don’t worry about removing the skin)
  • 2 c. of chicken stock, low-sodium
  • tomato purée, see recipe above
  • one small bunch of fresh thyme, wrapped in twine
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • basil pesto, see recipe above
  • A few fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Follow the directions above to make the tomato purée and basil pesto.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add the chicken breast. Cook about 5 minutes per side (cooking times vary according to the size of the chicken breast). When the chicken is done, remove the chicken from the pot to cool on a paper towel lined plate. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken breast. Some people use a fork, I use my hands. Place shredded chicken aside.
  3. If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the same pot that cooked the chicken breasts. Add the leeks and sauté for about five minutes, or until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the green pepper, zucchini and carrots to the pot. Sauté the vegetables for about three to five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add potatoes, chicken stock, thyme, red pepper flakes and tomato purée (see recipe above). Cover the pot and bring to boil. Reduce temperature to a low-heat to simmer the soup. Allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. If necessary, “sample taste” the soup to determine if the seasoning needs adjusting with salt and pepper.
  6. Return the shredded chicken to the soup.
  7. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Top with basil pesto (see recipe above). Garnish with basil leaves.
  8. Enjoy with a slice of thick multi-grain or wheat bread.

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