Spring Bean-and-Chard Soup with Pesto

Do you want a quick but satisfying meal from this season’s produce? Try this soup for a one pot meal.

Real Simple magazine has five easy dinners in their May 2018 issue, mostly with seasonal ingredients. I’ll feature at least two more in the coming weeks.

The only non-seasonal part of this soup is the basil pesto. Basil will be in season soon, but until then you can do as I did and substitute arugula pesto, or your favorite pesto with seasonal ingredients. There are several on the blog, but I’m still moving the recipes to the new site. It takes a good bit of time to move *eight* years of recipes! I’ll update with links to the pesto recipes when I’m done.

There’s not a whole lot to say about this recipe; it’s pretty basic and straightforward. I did add a small onion, and I chose to sauté the chard stems with the onions, carrot, and celery.

An advantage to using an alternative pesto is that it’s so pretty! Basil pesto darkens but most others stay bright green.

Add a loaf of crusty bread from Bread & Butter, or serve a side of polenta or grits from Riverview Farms Milling (start that first and it will be done in plenty of time) and you have a complete meal. Use your favorite cheese substitute in the pesto (or use the basil pesto recipe) and your meal is vegan as well.

Although this meal is quick, I’d say the 20 minutes listed by Real Simple is pushing it. Allow at least a few more minutes to prep your veggies and herbs. Still, 30 minutes to have a meal on the table is pretty great!

Photo by Zachary Cross

Photo by Zachary Cross

Spring bean-and-chard soup with pesto

From Real Simple


  • 1½ cups packed fresh basil leaves

  • ¼ cup toasted almonds

  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed

  • ⅔ cup olive oil, divided

  • 2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about ¾ cup)

  • 3 cups vegetable broth 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 15.5-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, divided

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves chopped (about 3 cups), plus 1 cup finely chopped stems

How to Make It

Step 1

Combine basil, almonds, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, about 5 times. With processor running, drizzle in ½ cup oil; process until smooth.

Step 2

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high. Cook carrots and celery, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add broth and salt and bring to a simmer. Using a fork, mash 1 can of beans in a bowl. Add mashed beans, whole beans, and chard leaves and stems to Dutch oven. Cook, stirring often, until chard is slightly wilted, about 2 minutes.

Step 3

Serve soup topped with pesto.

Printable recipe here


Use arugula pesto (see recipe below) or other seasonal pesto.

Add a small, chopped onion with the carrots and celery.

Sauté the chard stems with the other veggies.

Use spinach in place of chard.

Arugula, Parsley and Ricotta Pesto

Makes 1 1/2 cups


* 3 medium cloves garlic , unpeeled

* 1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts or almonds)

* 1 cup arugula (packed), washed and dried thoroughly

* 1 cup fresh parsley leaves (packed), washed and dried thoroughly

* 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

* 1/3 cup ricotta cheese (I used all Parmesan cheese)

* 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

* Table salt and ground black pepper


1. Toast garlic in small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until softened and spotty brown, about 8 minutes; when cool, remove and discard skins. While garlic cools, toast nuts in skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Place arugula and parsley in heavy-duty, quart-sized, zipper-lock plastic bag; bruise all leaves with meat pounder. (I have to admit that I skipped this step though you are welcome to follow it - seems like a fun way to get some aggression out.)

3. Blend the garlic (cut it into a few pieces to make it easier to blend), nuts, arugula, parsley, and oil until smooth in a food processor, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the cheeses. Season to taste with salt and pepper. - See more at: http://www.thegardenofeating.org/2009/01/eatwell-recipe-4-arugula-parsley.html#sthash.Kmtyo7tA.dpuf

Printable recipe here

Heather Cross