1 pound asparagus spears
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dried orzo or other tiny pasta
3 cups snow pea pods, ends and strings removed
6 cups torn fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup purchased basil pesto (optional)
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Snap off and discard woody bases from asparagus. If desired, scrape off the scales. Bias-slice asparagus spears into 1-inch-long pieces. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a 4-quart Dutch oven cook onion and garlic in about 1 tablespoon of hot olive oil until tender. Carefully add chicken broth; bring to boiling. Stir in pasta; reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes. Stir in asparagus and snow peas. Return soup to boiling; cook 3 minutes more. Stir in spinach and pepper; cook 1 minute more. Remove soup from heat. Ladle soup into bowls. If desired, swirl some pesto into each bowl of soup. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition facts per serving: 112 calories, 3 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 488 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein. Daily values: 36% vitamin A, 50% vitamin C, 8% calcium, 11% iron.