Creamy Spinach Chicken Soup

You know how last week, I was all, like, find zucchini at all costs to make this cake and never use zucchini for another thing and blah, blah, blah? Yeah, well, forget those words ever came out of my mouth.

Because you are going to need some zucchini for this soup and I promise it’s going to be lifechanging. I swear I’m not even trying to be dramatic.

This soup is shockingly delicious. It’s creamy with a thick, velvety texture that tastes like you are eating the most decadent soup in the universe. Except there isn’t any heavy cream (or dairy) in sight. Ready for the lifechanging part? Zucchini makes up the luscious base of the soup. Zucchini! I know…get out! Zucchini is simmered in a garlic-leek broth and then blended to smithereens making a creamy base for the spinach and chicken (which by the way, I’ve left out the chicken completely a time or two making a great vegetarian meal). It has left me laying awake at night wondering how I can use zucchini as a “cream” substitute elsewhere in my life.

Creamy Spinach Chicken Soup

Not only is it creamy and delicious, it manages to be one of the most healthful, loaded-with-veggie soups I’ve ever put in front of my family. And additionally (I know, can you believe there’s more?), while I was a bit skeptical how it would be received, I mean it IS bright green for goodness’ sake, my kids ate so many helpings that there wasn’t any left when Brian got home late from work. I mean, who am I to say to my kids, “No sweetie, you need to stop eating a lifetime’s worth of spinach and zucchini now.” They were freaking out (in a good way) about the crazy green soup they were eating, positive it was giving them instant super-hero powers. I’m pretty sure they renamed the soup “Hulk Soup.” And don’t worry, I’ve made it three times since so Brian’s been able to get his fill and flex his own muscles, too.

What To ServeI usually serve this with some homemade bread and butter. Or grilled cheese. Or saltine crackers. And some fruit. Nothing fancy but seriously, it’s amazing.

My friend, Liz is the lovey who sent the recipe to me. She and I were inseparable best friends in our youth. Like, wearing matching outfits and making up choreographed routines to Michael Jackson songs. And I’m not even going to admit how long we played with our massive amounts of Barbies and accessories. Friends like that? Well, you totally trust the recipes they send you. And this one has landed into one of my favorite soups of all time.

Get your hands on some zucchini and make it.

One Year Ago: Succulent Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Two Years Ago: S’mores Cookie Bars
Three Years Ago: Breaded Garlic Chicken in Lemon-Butter Sauce

No-Cream Creamy Basil Spinach Soup

Yield: Serves 4-6 {Edited to say many commenters feel this only serves 2-3 so you may want to double!}

No-Cream Creamy Basil Spinach Soup

Plan ahead since the recipe calls for cooked chicken - or just leave it out (like I've done a time or two - makes a delicious, vegetarian dish).

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 large or 2 medium leeks, green parts trimmed and discarded, white parts washed well and chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed, and chopped (about 4 cups total)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 2-3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 cups cooked chicken

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic, leeks and zucchini. Stir in the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, 3-4 minutes, until the leeks have softened. Add 1 cup of the broth, cover and cook, stirring every once in a while, until the zucchini is falling apart and very tender, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a blender and add the basil. Carefully blend (in batches if needed). Pour the soup back into the pot. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth. Stir in the chopped spinach and cooked chicken and cook until heated through, 4-5 minutes.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/creamy-spinach-soup/
Recipe Source: adapted from my childhood best friend, Liz P.

76 Responses to No-Cream Creamy Basil Spinach Soup {i.e. Lifechanging Soup}

  1. Kim in MD says:

    All of that creamy deliciousness with no cream? That’s awesome! I am SO making this!

  2. You’re such a genius. It’s like each recipe you post is even more amazing than the last one. This is why I love your blog! I want a t-shirt with your blog URL on it :)

  3. Judith - Texas says:

    Just made my shopping list for this soup; dinner tonight!

  4. Ava says:

    Would baby spinach work?

  5. Judith - Texas says:

    Great idea Dessert For Two; I second the motion re the t-shirt with your blog header on it – hint, hint, Mel.

  6. Kathy says:

    I love how healthy this is!

  7. Natalie says:

    Hey Mel,
    Could you use just onion instead of leek?
    Thanks,
    Natalie

    • Mel says:

      Hi Natalie – I have a love affair with leeks. I can’t describe how much I adore them so I definitely encourage using them. They have a delicious mild onion flavor. Having said that, you could definitely experiment with onions…just take care that the onion flavor doesn’t overpower the soup.

  8. Teresa R. says:

    I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  9. Jenna says:

    I’m definitely going to give this one a try. I think the BRIGHT GREEN would be a benefit for my two giggly boys. heh

  10. Nicole Hunn says:

    I find that even my 1 kid who doesn’t like vegetables (as much as she tries!) will go for them in a smooth and creamy soup. This looks beautiful, Mel. I wouldn’t change a thing!

    xo N

  11. Natasha says:

    Hi mel! Im not sure why I have not commented on a recipe until now but here I go! I have been following your blog for almost two years now and have made many of your recipes which have all been fantastic by the way. I am planning to make this soup on this weeks meal plan, my husband claims to not really like pureed soup so I will let you know how it goes. Just wanted to stop by and leave you a long over due comment to say thank you for posting all of these wonderful recipes.

    Oh and p.s. Obviously I talk about you(your blog) more than I realize! I used to start off sentences to my husband with “you know Mel from mels kitchen cafe ….” But a few nights ago my husband inserted “yes i know Mel, you can just say Mel from now on”. Ha!

  12. Mine is not bright green, but I’ve got a very similar soup posted that I call “Dream” of Zucchini soup. In addition to the leeks and zucchini, I put in a medium-sized potato which all contribute to a creamy soup without any dairy involved. I’ve swapped out the zucchini for cauliflower, and it’s equally good. Looks like spinach is a great addition and I’m going to have to try it soon. Great way to get daily servings of veggies into kids!

  13. I just love how green this soup is. And leeks – yum. I love leeks! This is totally going on my list of must-make soups for the fall.

  14. This does look awesome! Love the color!

  15. Gillie says:

    Looks wonderful, I have a VERY soft spot, lol, for soup recipes, am always on the lookout for new ones, thank you , Mel! I make a much simpler one with zucchini and dill and you are so right, creamy!

  16. I have a different zucchini soup recipe from my childhood, that is similar and I love it! http://homeschooling4boyz.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/zucchini-soup-2/

  17. Dawn says:

    Have you ever frozen this soup? Does it freeze well or is it one of the better eaten fresh types? I’ve got all the ingredients and am thinking of making a batch for when it is not 100 degrees out.

  18. Rachel says:

    Another awesome way to use zucchini for creamy deliciousness…. In guacamole, mixed with the avocados, lime, cilantro, onions, s&p, garlic, tomatoes…. No sour cream! It’s really good. This soup looks great. Thanks again, Mel.

  19. Kelli says:

    Hey Mel, I know you love leeks but unfortunately my family refuses to eat them. Do you have any other suggestions for substitutions? Thanks!! All your recipes are delicious!

  20. Sarah in Akron says:

    Wow. We had this for dinner tonight and everyone enjoyed it, including the 2 & 4-year-old boys. We’ve renamed it Screaming Green Soup. This was so well liked that my husband is wondering how we might automate some sort of menu planning and have this pop up randomly throughout the year. That really is saying something, as we rarely plan meals more than two days out. Who knows, maybe this will be the recipe that inspires us to start down the path of a more organized life; it would be “life changing”.

  21. Tricia says:

    Count me in on the crowd who have already made this since you posted it :) I ended up having to double the leeks and garlic (and I added two shallots) because…. Apparently I cant “eyeball measure” and I ended up using almost double the amount of calabaza , then needing double the amount of veggie stock (which is the reason I had to eyeball, since the kind of squash I used was different from your rec since we dnt have real zucs here)

    Anyway. That was rambly, but even with all the “eyeballing” going n, I still didnt mess up the recipe, and my nonsoup eating husband really enjoyed it! And so did I . This is def a keeper, cant wait to remake it for my picky MIL ;) It will really win her over, she loves leeks and calabazas!

  22. Samantha S says:

    Mel, do you think this would work in a crockpot? 5-6 hours on low?

  23. Tami says:

    I made this tonight and we all loved it. It surprised me how good it is. The fresh basil is a must. Delish.

  24. Ava says:

    Made this tonight – sans spinach (thought I had in the fridge but did not). It was very yummy, but, this must be doubled! The recipe is for a very small crowd.

  25. Caitlin says:

    I can’t wait to try this! Even better, I think I can find all the ingredients! I just moved to China and dairy is extremely hard and expensive to come by, so a creamy soup that doesn’t require cream?! Amazing! Thanks so much! You’re saving my american self out here in the land of fatty meat and aisle and aisles of oil (not that I have anything against oil ;) )

  26. Leigh Anne says:

    Can’t wait to try it! Gotta get my hands on some Leeks and fresh basil & I’m all set! Thanks for such a healthy recipe :)

  27. Andrea N says:

    Wow!! This soup is ridiculously good!! When I first aw the recipe I thought, “That looks tasty, but can it really be as good as she says?” YES!! It really is THAT good. It took no time to whip up! Bonus! Thanks again for a great recipe!

  28. Julia says:

    Thank you. I’ve never made anything from your site that I haven’t enjoyed…and this one takes the cake!

  29. Juli says:

    This soup is incredible!! I used sweet onions as a substitute for the leeks and it turned out great! Thanks for another great recipe! My son wonders if you have a recipe for “Iron Man Soup!”

  30. Sally says:

    I’m so glad there’s not a lot of basil in this. Just recently I’ve allowed myself to admit that I dislike basil nearly as much as I dislike cilantro. I’ll substitute flat-leaf parsley.

    Soups like this have become favorites of mine over the last year or so. I have one with broccoli in my fridge now. I also eat them with bread and fruit for a simple and nourishing meal.

    I’ll make this as soon as I get the ingredients.

  31. Amanda says:

    So I really hate diet food, usually recipes have weird ingredients and frankly don’t end up tasting very good in the end. But Mel, you have posted amazing food over the last year that has helped me lose 20 pounds on weight watchers! Between the chipotle chicken skewers, and the butternut squash quinoa chicken soup, and now this, wow, it’s been amazing and made me re-look at how to do “healthy food.” I know “healthy food” isn’t your website’s goal (which is, frankly, the best part) and I would be super sad if you stopped posting recipes full of cream and butter, but if I see a recipe here that it’s good, healthy or not.

    BTW, if anyone cares to know, this soup, if divided into 4 servings, is 5 points a serving. That’s a pretty rocking lunch.

  32. Kim J says:

    Hi Mel- I’m such a huge fan! Thanks for always delivering for us.
    Just wondering if this soup can be made earlier in the day or if its a better “served immediately” kind of thing! Any thoughts?

  33. Sara says:

    Mel, this was a 16 thumbs up meal at our house!! At first serving, I had six skeptical children and a doubtful husband thinking this might, just might, be the first time Mel had let us down. Not so!! They speedily polished off the entire triple batch, leaving nothing left over for mama’s lunch today :(.

  34. Sheila says:

    I just made this soup. It is every bit as good as you claim and even more so. I am so much of a soup person that when my husband asks me where I want to go for our anniversary, I always pick a place that has delicious soup. And the soup is my main course. This recipe is going into my “Best Soup Recipes” file. Thanks so much for sharing!

  35. Bonnie says:

    We had this soup tonight and it was yummy! I doubled it and it fed 2 adults and 4 children 7 and under. My boys just knew that their skin was going to turn green like the hulk. Next time I will triple the recipe. I served it with homemade wheat bread.

  36. Smitha says:

    If I had to eat one thing and one thing only for the rest of my life, it would be this soup. Thank you for bringing this soup into my life. It is incredible!!

  37. Made this last night. It was a little too spicy for my kids and hubby. I put in the amount of pepper called for but I think I must have really spicy pepper cause this seems to be happening a lot. The Hulk thing worked for my son but my daughter still would not eat it! :( sure wish she would branch out.

    I liked it and will make it again great way to use up zucchini!

  38. Oh, I have to try this….if for no other reason than to see if my kids will eat it:-). It sounds awesome. My girls inhale kale chips so I am hoping this might have the same effect. It sounds wonderful though – I’m looking forward to it myself!

  39. Kathy says:

    Blender?? You need to get yourself an immersion blender!! It’s fabulous for jobs just like this. Thanks for the fabulous recipes!!

  40. Megan G says:

    Soooo delicious! Though I followed the recipe exactly and got like 2.5 servings. Definitely going to double or triple it next time. Too good to not have seconds! !

  41. Josie says:

    I made this last night, and we absolutely loved it! Super easy, and so good. Thanks for a great recipe!

  42. Abbie says:

    This was so good. Next time I’m going to puree the spinach, as my little one didn’t like the “leaves” in the soup. Just another great recipe.

  43. katie says:

    I think I will puree the spinach too next time. You better believe there will be a next time. VERY delicious.

  44. Alicia says:

    Made this and we loved it as well! I cut down the amount of pepper and still found the pepper flavor to be a bit strong, so next time I might cut in half. I never thought to use my immersion blender, though (duh!). Great suggestion, Kathy.

    Thanks for another winning recipe! By the way, I took your suggestion and bought a Camp Chef Stove for canning my chicken. I love it!! You really do make me look like a rock star in the kitchen. I appreciate all of the time you spend on your blog. The next thing I’m going to attempt will be water-bath canning using your instructions. I’ve never done it, but you haven’t led me wrong yet. :)

  45. Lisa says:

    Delicious soup and added some fun variety to the recipe binder – yum! Thank you Mel! My family was skeptical about the green ( teenager and husband here), but ate it all gone. One thing to note – it only made about 2 1/2 servings (or bowls) of soup without the 1-2 cups chicken. Only had to feed three people so salad and bread made for a full meal. Certainly, chicken would have added more to the pot, but needs to be doubled if you have more than 3 to feed or choose to omit the chicken.

  46. Jane says:

    I have had most of the ingredients languishing in my fridge for a week while I looked for leeks – no such luck. I finally subbed a shallot and an onion because I had to make this soup! Also subbed veggie stock and nixed the chicken to make it vegan for a friend – she is going to love this! Thanks for introducing me to the ‘creamy’ powers of zucchini…I see many more creamy-without-cream soups in my future.

  47. Missy says:

    This was so delicious! Thanks so much! I was wondering if this would freeze well? I made a big batch and want to freeze individual servings for my lunches. Thanks, Mel!

  48. Kaylyn says:

    I have followed your blog for over a year now and love it. I am always referring people to your site. I grated zuchinni just yesterday, could I use that in place of chopped zuchinni? Also could I use frozen spinach or would it be better to leave it out?

  49. Jolene says:

    I just made this soup and it is delicious. I threw in some leftover quinoa I had in the fridge and I love the extra texture it provides. Thanks Mel!! You are my GO-TO site for my dinner time meal planning.

  50. sarah says:

    I just made this. Love the creamy base with no cream! Yum. For us it was way too peppery though– will cut way back next time. And I preferred it before I put the cooked chicken in, so I think we will go vegetarian next time. But overall another healthy, yummy hit! I just wish it had turned the pretty green color in your picture. My “hulk” is quite pea green, which is going to make it a harder sell with the kids!

  51. Vicky says:

    Okay, I was skeptical, but this was actually really good! My husband loved it, and he’s usually not big on soup. I puréed the spinach because I doubted my family would go for spinach “chunks.” I will double it next time so we have more leftovers. I love having another way to use up zucchini! (Funny story: I gave away 4 mammoth zucchini from my garden last week and had to BUY zucchini for this soup! Oh dear…)

  52. LeeAnne says:

    Made this soup for dinner tonight and I loved it! As did the 1 year old. As for my husband, the 3 year old, and the 7 year old, they weren’t so crazy about it. Which I’m really not at all disappointed about… That means more leftovers for me ;)

  53. Holly W says:

    I made this to the delight of my ten-year-old who thinks I should be sure to make it on St. Patrick’s day! We all were amazed by how green it is. I didn’t bother with the chicken since we love all veggie soups and this one looked like it would be yummy without the meat. I froze a bunch of zucchini before we had hard frosts kill everything so now I have some fresh grated zucchini in the freezer for both this soup and zucchini cake! What a treat that will be in the dead of winter!

  54. Jocelyn says:

    This is a terrific soup! I used sweet onion instead of leeks because I am lazy and don’t like cleaning them. Also, I had to substitute dried basil because I didn’t have any fresh, and the flavor was still wonderful. Thanks so much!

  55. KB says:

    I love this soup!
    It is easy and quick to make, creamy, and delicious.
    I never add the chicken and only some of the spinach.
    It might not be truly vegetarian since it is made with chicken broth.
    Thanks for another keeper.

  56. Sally-Anne says:

    Would this taste okay cold? I’m looking for healthier things to pack and take with me for lunch at school.

    • Mel says:

      Sally-Anne – I’ve only ever enjoyed this warm but you could definitely try making it, tasting it cold and deciding whether it’s good enough to take for lunch. Good luck!

  57. Kathryn says:

    Hi–The soup came out well, but it was not nearly as bright green as yours (more bland green and less appealing). Did you puree in the spinach?

    Love your writing!

    • Mel says:

      Kathryn – I didn’t puree the spinach (although many people have said they did) but I did leave the peels on my zucchini so maybe that helped the color a bit? Not sure, but glad you liked it despite the lack of green color appeal. :)

  58. Joycelyn Trigg says:

    I simply cannot believe how good this is. I’m passing it around to everyone I know. I’m lazy, though, so I just tossed some basil leaves and handfuls of spinach in with the mixture in the blender. The second time I made it (as soon as the first batch ran out!) I added canned chicken (I am restricted to a soft diet right now, so it’s another compromise) before blending, so it’s all smooth and delicious. I haven’t enjoyed cooking for the last several years, but this makes me feel like it might become my friend again. Thank you for making this soft diet routine seem like “restriction” to simple-prep gourmet food!

  59. Pam says:

    I made this for dinner last night and am IN LOVE WITH THIS SOUP! SO much that I tried sharing it on my facebook wall (via the facebook icon you have with this recipe) but it wouldn’t work :( Thanks for such an AMAZING recipe, Mel!!

  60. Jen says:

    Can I just say how much I love your website!? I enjoy cooking but need variety in my meals. I was so tired of wasting time and money on finding and making recipes and then they didn’t even turn out very yummy! I have tried a ton of your recipes and have loved all of them! Plus, your website is easy to navigate, your pictures are beautiful, and you make it fun to browse with all of your witty writing! I have been telling all my friends and family about it. Thank you so much for sharing! :)
    PS This soup really is life-changing! We make it all the time and it’s amazing!

  61. Joann says:

    OMG! So good, and if you leave out the chicken, it’s only 3 points for the whole pot on Weight Watchers! Loved it!

  62. Debi says:

    I made this today and it was DELICIOUS! I think next time I will sub veg broth and beans for the chicken broth and chicken to make it plant based and see how it turns out. I think it would be delicious (not plant based obviously) with crispy bacon instead of the chicken. It definitely needs to be doubled. Thanks for sharing!

  63. michelle says:

    This soup is INCREDIBLE!! We are addicted! It’s so fulfilling to make, and then eat, something that you know has ZERO unhealthy or questionable ingredients! This is pure genius. Thanks so very much.

  64. Meghan says:

    Could I make this and have it turn out fine without the leaks? Would the cream still turn out? Thanks!

  65. Courtney says:

    Just wanted to let you know that this recipe filled the “what my mom makes best” slot on my 9 year old daughter’s Mother’s Day questionnaire. Pretty special!

  66. Dawn Christensen says:

    This soup looked delicious, so I tried it. I was surprised at how spicy it is! Did I do something wrong, Mel? Has anyone else had that problem? My family prefers less spicy foods except for my son who liked this soup. Do your kids like spicy food, Mel? I might put a warning in the recipe about it. I will make it again, but cut the spice amounts in half. I think I’ll really like it then. I’ve never cooked with leeks before, so that was interesting. Thank you for all your great recipes and for your enthusiasm for cooking.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Dawn – sorry this soup turned out spicy for you. That surprises me a bit since it isn’t spicy at all when I make it (my kids are ok with a little bit of heat, though). The only ingredient that could be contributing to the spice is the black pepper so perhaps cutting back on that will help (I’ve never heard of leeks being spicy but I guess I could be wrong about that). Hope you like it better if you try it again!

  67. jamie says:

    Have made this soup 4 times in the last couple weeks…and I’ve DOUBLED it the last 3 times. I keep it all to myself and eat it every day for lunch. It’s delicious. Love it!

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