Italian Vegetable Soup With Orzo and Pesto

Serves 6. Recipe is from the American Institute for Cancer Research. The soup becomes a complete lunch or light dinner with the addition of a slice or two of crusty whole-wheat bread.

Pesto:

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 tbls. extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Soup:

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 (see note)

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 tbls. low-fat shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese

1. Puré e 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 to 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 to 7 minutes.

3. Ladle soup into 6 bowls. Divide pesto among servings and swirl in to blend. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

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

Nutritional analysis per serving: 300 calories, 10 grams total fat (2 grams saturated fat), 42 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams protein, 7 grams dietary fiber, 200 milligrams sodium.