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Summer Vegetable Soup with Pesto

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This summer vegetable soup is healthy yet totally satisfying – perfect for a rainy day or cool summer night.

summer vegetable soup

As promised, here’s the summer vegetable soup to go with last week’s Basil Walnut Pesto. It’s healthy yet totally satisfying – perfect for a rainy day or cool summer night. I’ve served it two ways: as a meal unto itself with a warm baguette or as a side to gooey grilled cheese sandwiches.

What you’ll need to make Summer Vegetable Soup with pesto

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It’s wonderfully quick and easy to make. Once your vegetables are chopped, the soup is done in 25 minutes. And if you don’t feel like making your own pesto, you can use a good quality store-bought brand (I like the fresh pesto at Whole Foods called  “Mama’s Pesto”).

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How to make Summer Vegetable soup with Pesto

Begin by cooking the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil over medium heat until partially cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook a few minutes more.

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Add the chicken stock, bay leaves and orzo and cook until the orzo is al dente.

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At the last minute, add the frozen peas and zucchini – they only take a minute or two to cook.

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Finally, ladle the soup into bowls and top with heaping tablespoons of pesto and grated Parmesan. Be generous – without these last two essential ingredients, the soup is bland. Pass more cheese and pesto at the table. Enjoy!

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Summer Vegetable Soup with Pesto

This summer vegetable soup is healthy yet totally satisfying – perfect for a rainy day or cool summer night.

Servings: 6


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ⅔ cup orzo
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup homemade or store bought pesto
  • Hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating over soup


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and translucent and the vegetables are partially cooked, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low if the onions start to brown. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes more.
  2. Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Add the orzo, then turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the zucchini and frozen peas. Adjust the heat to bring back to a simmer and cook until the orzo is cooked and all the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 2 minutes more. Remove the bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (Remember, it will taste a little bland without the pesto and Parmigiano-Reggiano.)
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a heaping tablespoon of pesto and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Pass more pesto and cheese at the table.
  4. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. (The orzo make soak up much of the broth while in the freezer; if necessary, thin the soup out with a bit of water or broth while reheating.)

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 215
  • Fat: 9g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 26g
  • Sugar: 6g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 11g
  • Sodium: 727mg
  • Cholesterol: 1mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • So good! And fresh. Opted to leave out the orzo, so may have been a bit thinner than others as I did not cut down on the broth. Doubled the tomato paste too. Will definitely be making again!

    • — Jillian on March 22, 2022
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  • My mind is blown in how delicious this recipe is! Thank you for sharing ❤️

    • — Halie on March 6, 2022
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  • My family enjoyed this soup and I will continue to make it into the winter. Because soup gets better with time I made it the day before eating and just added the pesto to the whole pot and it worked out great. We forgot to add parmesan but it was still flavorful. Thank you!

    • — Kt on September 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Very good light summer soup. I have made this before as written this time I added some fresh chopped peeled tomatoes and I like the added acidity and flavor. Someone mentioned adding a parmesan rind which I will do next time.

    • — Kerrie on September 5, 2021
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  • This is a delicious soup, definitely summery but I have continued to make it into the winter because it is so tasty! My brother doesn’t like peas so we often add in broccoli as a substitute and it is just as good. I love how healthy this recipe is as well as how quickly it comes together. Thanks for another delicious recipe!

  • Good Evening, Jenn. I am looking forward to trying this soup, however, I have no orzo on hand. Could I substitute a different pasta/grain? I have egg noodles, couscous, red lentil fusilli, and rice (jasmine & basmati). Any recommendations on the best substitute? Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Bethany, I think you could probably get away with any of those, but I’d suggest cooking whatever you choose separately and then adding it to the soup right before serving. Hope you enjoy!

    • I’ve made this soup so many times I’ve lost count! I now always double the recipe and freeze it for a quick lunch that is delicious and satisfying! SO GOOD, SO HEALTHY and SO EASY!

      • — Heather D. on October 7, 2021
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  • This soup is such a wonderful standby. Every time we make it, the family totally eats it all up. Good with or without the Parmesan and pesto.

    We always add some rotisserie chicken, an extra zucchini, and if we want to stretch it a bit, put in an extra cup of broth and a bit extra noodles.

  • This recipe – with or without the pesto – is AMAZING! I have a fabulous farmer market near me and was able to find all the fresh ingredients there. I made a huge batch and froze it and warm it up for lunch. This recipe, the chicken chili and creamy zucchini soup are SO GOOD. Whenever I want to make something and need a recipe, I always come to this site first to find one of Jenn’s recipes. I love how flavorful and healthy they are!

  • Can you add the pesto and parmesan directly in after the soup is cooked? As opposed to putting in the bowl when serving? Thank you!
    – Samantha

    • Sure, that should work. Enjoy!

  • So so yummy!

  • I made this last night, and it was fantastic! We couldn’t stop eating it! I have been using your website and cookbook for a few years now and every single recipe that I make is wonderful. Every Single One. My 14 year old daughter is cooking and baking using your recipes too. Always our “go to!” Thank you!

  • Excellent soup: very similar to Julia Child’s “Soupe au Pistou”. I increased the broth to 10 cups, I added 1 cup of chopped green beans, 1 tablespoon of Vegeta and two additional cups of water. I didn’t have orzo, so I substituted it by crushed egg noodles. It was excellent and not bland at all, even without the pesto that I didn’t use. I’m very glad I found you: your recipes are well written, obviously tested and very good.

    • — Sandra from Toronto, Canada
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  • Delicious soup! How long will it keep in the fridge for?

    • I’d guesstimate about 3 days (and glad you liked it)!

  • This is my “go-to” soup for coming out of our rainy Pacific NW weather. Not too heavy for warmer temperatures, it’s perfect for my lunches. I just made a big pot and dropped a rind of parmesan in it. The last day’s soup was so delicious. Since I’m not a big fan of pesto I was leery of adding it but it’s delicious.

    I lost 30 lbs. this winter just making a pot of soup a week and eating that for lunches instead of going out or making sandwiches. Your soups offer so much variety and flavor that I never got tired of any of the recipes and my weight loss was painless!

    I’ve been a fan of your website for several years now and have yet to make something I didn’t enjoy and your pictures make it all so easy. I also own your cookbook. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • Fresh and comforting at the same time.

  • I’m having to print this recipe again, because my first copy is so stained from cooking – that tells you how often I’ve made this wonderful soup! It’s become a staple in our house, summer and winter. We like it with the pesto added all at once at the end.

    • Delicious and satisfying soup for a light meal. I’ve also made your French lentil soup, black bean soup and pasta fagioli soup. All were fantastic. Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes.

  • Made this last night…added too much tomato paste (the whole small can) to two cartons of chicken broth…should have followed the recipe exactly as it just didn’t come out as I expected…too bland. Love your recipes Jen.

  • Another winner! Your recipes have yet to disappoint. Made this last night and my husband and I loved it. I made a crusty bread in my bread maker to go with it and the bread needed another half hour once the soup was done so I turned off the stove and let the soup sit. I tasted it before doing so and it was better after resting, the zucchini was softer and the orzo too. Will definitely be making this one many more times, it was so easy to throw together. And the pesto definitely adds a lot of flavor, I just used the Kirkland brand from Costco. Thanks for another great one!

  • The recipe was excellent. I made a few changes for my family by adding red bell pepper, 2/3 cup of tomato sauce to the paste mixture, frozen green beans instead of peas, 1 cup of water to the chicken broth, 1/2 tsp each of rosemary, oregano, garlic powder and cilantro followed by other reviewer recommendations of pesto and parmesan to the pot instead of each individual bowl, serving with grilled cheese.

    My family always eat seconds while my daughter dips her grilled cheese. Leftovers tastes even better!

  • Great recipe! Definitely one of the top 5 recipes at my house. For those also following a gluten free diet, I found that a 1/2 cup of lentils are a great subsitiute for the orzo. Freezes well too! Thank you.

  • This is a favorite when I have dinner parties. I like to use several zucchini and I saute them at the beginning with the carrots, onion and celery to enhance the flavor. I don’t use the peas. Also, I make my own almond pesto and stir it straight into the soup pot making it easier at a party instead of everyone adding their own. Very good recipe!

  • OMG – I am addicted to this soup and I’ve tried almost all of your soup recipes. Made this in the summer and I ate the leftovers every day. Love the way the orzo plumps up after sitting awhile. The soup is even better the second day. I put the pesto in the entire pot of soup, as one reviewer mentioned and we liked the flavor best.

  • I’ve made a big pot of this soup twice and plan on making more. The base is light, making it a good soup for summer. I’ve served it both hot and cold and it was delicious both ways. Seasoning is perfect.

  • Delicious! Homemade pesto is definitely the key to this soup’s awesome flavor. I omitted the orzo and added chickpeas for a filling meal, and also sliced up jalepeño and added in last five minutes because I like spicy! This soup is an excellent vehicle for summer farmers’ market fare!

  • Hi, the recipe is good. I will definitely try because it is vegetarian. Can I add vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. ?
    What is orzo and where can I get it from? Is it vegetarian?

    • — Shilpa Shivjiani
    • Reply
    • Hi Shilpa, Yes, you can definitely use vegetable stock here. Orzo is a type of pasta that is shaped like grains of rice (and it is vegetarian). Enjoy!

  • I made this soup already 2x, because we love it soooooo much!!!! I didn’t know it will be this good, and since i have some pesto saved up in the freezer, this is an easy breezy recipe full of deliciousness!!!! THanks so much, Jen for sharing with us! 🙂

    • — Timea Szarkova
    • Reply
  • Lovely soup, i made it for Ramadan dinner for a family and they all loved it! I already had some Pine-nut pesto at home, so i used it with that, instead of Walnut pesto, but it was one of the most delicious soups (and easiest to make) that i have ever made! Thank you Jenn!

    • — Timea Szarkova
    • Reply
  • Would this soup be good with shredded chicken? Thanks.

    • Definitely 🙂

      • Hi Jenn !

        I love this soup recipe,and have made it numerous times; it always receives accolades 😊

        Wanted to share today I did a couple things differently, and enjoyed it just as much!

        When adding the tomato paste,I also smashed a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes (leftover from making your Israeli salad recipe a few days ago),and sautéed into the soup. At that point, I had a medium sized piece of Parmesan I purchased from our deli (with rind), and left it to simmer in the soup. I skipped doing the pesto this time. But all vegetables we’re still included.

        When I served the soup, I put in each bowl, julienned fresh spinach leaves. They “wilted” nicely.
        The garnish was a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (I know it sounds weird, but it’s really good!), and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

        Thank you
        Thank you for all your inspiration! With all the craziness in our world, your cookbooks & website are a real mood lifter 😊.

        Thanks again,

        BTW: for dessert this evening,I made your chocolate mousse recipe 😊I’ve made it so many times at this point, I’ve memorized it!!!

        • — Lisa on September 18, 2022
        • Reply
        • 💗

          • — Jenn on September 19, 2022
          • Reply
  • The Summer Vegetable Soup with Pesto is a flavorful yet light soup, perfect for warm weather. We enjoy the flavors of fresh pesto made from homegrown basil and it “makes” this soup.

  • I just made this today and it was excellent! I used my homemade chicken stock and pesto – a perfect use for them and all the veg from the market. The soup was outstanding! Thank you.

  • I made it today to greet my boss and his friends after an afternoon sailing in Martha’s Vineyard!
    I got a lot of compliments and I am the worst cook ever.

    You made my day!

    • So glad, Eleonora! Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  • Perfect dish for a light dinner on a summer night. You must have good pesto but you really only need a heaping teaspoon for each bowl. The tablespoon that’s called for might overwhelm especially for younger palates. That being said, my four young daughters all ate it right up and even tried the zucchini which usually gets left behind in any dish I add it to.
    My husband liked the white bean ragout from this site better but would be happy to have this one again.

  • Delicious. I made it exactly as directed and am very pleased with the results. I will absolutely make it again this summer.

  • I find most vegetable soups a little bland. This one has a heartier flavor. I like the addition of peas and zucchini. The pesto garnish adds a fresh taste at the end.

  • I just made this recipe for my family and they loved it! I made a couple of tweeks, I added some fresh green beans and instead of adding the pesto to each bowl, I added a 1/4 cup to the soup with the zucchini. My 16 year old said it was the best soup she’s ever had and liked it so much she brought it to school the next day to share with her friends. That’s how much she loved it!

  • I just made this for the family tonight – carrots, onions and zucchini all came from our garden plus tomato pulp/juice left over from canning. Amazing! The pesto adds so much flavour. Two thumbs up from my 7-y.o. son!

    • Thanks, Reno. A thumbs up from your seven-year-old is a big compliment!

  • Light and tasty. Made heartier with the addition of chicken.

  • Very good – added two cloves of minced garlic to the veggies

  • Jennifer, we have added this recipe to our regular rotation – it’s a keeper! The first time we made it, we still had fresh basil in the garden. Later in the fall and winter when we are craving a fresh veggie soup, we break in to my stash of frozen pesto from the freezer. ( I discovered the beauty of freezing homemade pesto in an ice cube tray and then tossing the frozen cubes in a freezer bag.)
    The colorful mix of vegetables is fantastic and as delicious to eat as it is to look at.

    • Hi Liesel,
      I just read your review.

      Thank you for your tip if freezing homemade pesto in ice cube trays!

      Thanks to your tip,I’ll be doing that also😊

      Thanks again …


      • — Lisa on March 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • Great recipe. I’ll add some parmesan rind while it’s simmering. And, of course, use cut green beans instead of the peas. The flavor and texture are different, but I like it fine.

  • This is so healthy and flavorful! Made it last summer when my basil was plentiful. The pesto really adds a wonderful mix of flavors to an already delicious soup.

  • My husband loves this soup! Although it’s a summer soup I have made it several times this winter. I love it with basil pesto, but he likes it with just lime. To add flavor with out the pesto I add chicken bouillon in addition to low-sodium chicken stock. It’s superb!

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  • This looks incredible! Would subbing pearled barley for the orzo be possible? I’m guessing you’d just simmer a little longer until the barley is done?

    btw, I’m new to cooking and have tried several of your recipes so far. They are all soooo good that my husband thinks I’m a pro! Thank you.

  • This soup is DELICIOUS! My husband and I both loved it. Thanks for all the great recipes 🙂

  • tried it for dinner..added garlic to the sauted veggies, green beans, 1 tsp oregano and coriander. Delish…ate 3 bowls….

  • Looks wonderful. And now that the weather has cooled off here in Kansas, I may have to give it a try with some of the final veggies available at the farmer’s market!

  • Look yummy! I will definitely put this on my to do list! Crusty bread and some wine! 🙂

  • this looks just delicious! the weather is finally cooling off where i live, so soup sounds perfect (+ i have lots of homemade pesto to use up). i just found your blog through caroline at chocolate + carrots – so glad i did!

  • Wow! This looks incredible! Especially with some of that crusty bread! 🙂

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