Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

This past Saturday, neither Adam or I felt in the mood to cook (yes, it really does happen -- quite frequently, in fact), so we decided to brave the crowds and find a non-fast-food place to eat. As both of us had just finished our long runs earlier, we were both starving. Having a long wait was not an option. Since we didn't really want to drive very far for dinner, our first choice ended up being Olive Garden for some pasta. After finding out the wait time was over an hour, we decided to hop across the street instead to a local Mexican place. Good choice, as I already had this Olive Garden spin-off Chicken Gnocchi soup lined up for Monday night's dinner.

When I was younger, we would always have soccer tournaments and games a considerable distance away from where I lived. It was always a special treat to go to Olive Garden after (or sometimes before) the game as the town where I lived didn't have one. I swore up and down I could live on their breadsticks. Fast forward several years, and I have fallen out of love with the place. To me, it falls into the "boring chain restaurant" category with Friday's, Chili's, and Applebee's. It rarely has any dishes that truly stand out, or go outside the box with bold flavors. Even their breadsticks seem overly garlicky and salty now, especially on the bottom.

While most of their pasta dishes come across very flat and bland, their chicken gnocchi soup is one thing I do enjoy. It's rich and hearty with little pillows of gnocchi and chicken floating around. And gnocchi makes me happy.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Adapted from: Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker

16 ounces gnocchi
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery (about 2 stalks), diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 quart half and half*
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
1 cup carrots, shredded
2 (4 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced and cooked
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Bring a medium saucepan filled with water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté until the onion becomes translucent, about 7 minutes. Whisk in the flour, forming a roux. Cook for 1 minute. Pour in the half and half, and add the carrots and chicken to the dutch oven. Simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, and allow the mixture to thicken again, stirring often, about 5 minutes or until the consistency desired is achieved. Stir in the gnocchi, spinach, and seasonings and simmer until soup is heated through.

Serves: 8 (4 as an entrée)

*I don't recommend using a low-fat or fat-free version of half and half, but if you choose to do so, make sure you do not let the soup come to a boil as this will cause the cream to break (making it grainy).

While this rendition of Chicken Gnocchi soup isn't exactly the same as Olive Garden's, it's very close and still very good. Definitely do not leave out the salt, pepper, or nutmeg, as they help finish off the savory side of the soup. Trust me on that one... I might have done that and had to add it in after the fact. Adam and I both really enjoyed this, and it's perfect for one of those nasty chilly days.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving - 8 servings
Calories 374Calories from fat 231
% Daily Value
Total Fat 25.6g39%
Saturated Fat 15.1g75%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 95mg32%
Sodium 744mg31%
Total Carbs 21.5g7%
Dietary Fiber 1.6g6%
Sugars 2.3g
Protein 14.4g
Vitamin A 66%Vitamin C 10%
Calcium 17%Iron 8%


  1. Looks really really comforting, perfect on a cold day. It will fill you up and warm you up.

    75% of recommended daily saturated fat consumption from one serve is a bit high though. That means no buttery cookies or cakes during the day. Thats a sacrifice!

  2. That looks really good! I agree with you on a lot of Olive Gardens pasta dishes being pretty bland. Though I do love their Fagioli soup... Could eat that everyday of the week! I have yet to try this soup, but may just have to make it!

  3. This looks so creamy and rich! It's cold here today, this would be perfect for lunch :)

  4. This looks fabulous! Great post!

  5. Looks delicious! I am trying to expand the soups I make, so I will have to give this a try!

  6. Oh that soup looks amazing! And your photos are gorgeous!

    If he could, my husband would eat Olive Garden every day. He even worked there during his college days just so he could eat their food every day. I am copying this recipe and will surprise him with it! Thank you!

  7. My stomach is growling, this soup looks so delicious!

  8. This is one great looking bowl of soup! I'm not a fan of any of those chain restaurants either and would rather spend my money at a more unique place. I bet this soup is so much better for you than Olive Gardens version!

  9. Oh snap! great looking soup. I made a chicken gnocchi soup on the weekend but without the cream....I still have gnocchi in the freezer though..hmmm.....looks fabulous!

  10. Wow this soup looks delicious! I love the gnocchi and chicken... yum!

  11. So glad you like this. I made it again for dinner just tonight. I used olive oil this time instead of butter. It's too bad that delicious foods usually aren't good for us.

  12. Now this is perfect comfort food! So rich and delicious!

  13. Wow! Great minds think alike! I just tried this the other night from Kristen's site too and want to try it again so that I may tweak it to our tastes here. I am thinking maybe a few red pepper flakes and some parmesan as well as changing the spinach for kale (only because I crush non kale). Great soup!

  14. This sounds like the perfect comfort food! Yum!

  15. I've never had Olive Garden's chicken gnocchi soup but it looks like it would be right up my alley! Yours looks so delicious and comforting!

  16. That is a great recipe!

  17. I made this and am eating the leftovers right now. So amazing!

  18. Oh my gosh, I loved this! I did make one change. I couldn't find Gnocchi in my store for some reason so I used a three cheese tortellini. I will make this again once I find the gnocchi. Thanks for the great recipe.

  19. I made this! It was wonderful! Thank you.

  20. This is a wonderful recipe! We had it the other day and my hubby's comment was "Next time make a double batch... This is good!"



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