Colorado chicken soup had me from the moment I saw it contained cilantro pesto. It had been too long since I’d made one for my spring masa ball soup,

The best part about adding cilantro and basil pesto is, it makes the soup that much more flavorful with a minimum amount of work.

We had plans that were cancelled, and instead of eating out or grabbing something quick, I had time needed to pull this together — and still had time to relax.

The broth was already made, and aside from chicken, many ingredients came in cans or frozen, so it whipped together in about 30 minutes. I made the cilantro pesto while it cooked.

The soup tastes like baby steps toward chili that will come later this fall. Here’s what I did, slightly altering a recipe from “Soup Nights.”

Colorado Chicken Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika

6 cups broth, chicken or vegetable

1 (28 ounces) can crushed tomatoes

1 (4 ounces) can green chiles

2 cup cooked chicken, chopped

1 (15 ounces) can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups frozen corn

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ cup roasted pepitas

⅓ cup packed cilantro leaves

In a large Dutch oven, heat two tablespoons olive oil until hot. Add onions, celery and carrots; cook until vegetables are slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and other spices; stir for 1 minute. Add broth, crushed tomato and chiles (with their liquid). Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Add cooked chicken, black beans and corn; simmer until heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Meanwhile, place pepitas, cilantro and remaining olive oil into a food processor and pulse until minced, scraping bowl as necessary.

When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowl(s), add a heaping spoonful, or to taste, of cilantro pesto, and enjoy!

Christinia Crippes is a Courier reporter who loves to cook. Read her blog at