Monday, October 03, 2016

Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup {Olive Garden Style}

This is a hearty, comforting soup laden with pillow-y potato gnocchi, tender chunks of chicken, fresh spinach and shredded carrots. The broth is rich, creamy and ultra decadent.  It's a popular soup at Olive Garden, but making it at home is simple and satisfying. {Plus, you'll probably end up with leftovers ... and that's always a good thing when it comes to soup.}


If you're not familiar with gnocchi, they are Italian-style mini dumplings made from cooked potatoes and flour. You can find a plethora of recipes online if you'd like to make you own, but pre-made gnocchi are easily found in most grocery stores these days. Buying them ready-to-use is a total timesaver and there are some pretty good quality ones out there from which to choose. Typically, packages of gnocchi can be located in the dry pasta aisle. But, gnocchi can sometimes be found frozen and even fresh at specialty markets.

In my household, we prefer this soup pretty thick. If you find that you'd like it a bit thinner, just stir in some additional chicken broth {or even water} at the end of cooking.

Serves 6 - 8.


Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
32 ounces gnocchi {typically sold in 16 ounce packages}
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook chicken in oil a few minutes - stirring occasionally. {Do not brown chicken. Chicken does not need to be completely cooked through at this point.} Add onion, garlic and celery. Sauté just until vegetables start to become tender - about two minutes.

Add butter. Allow to melt. Sprinkle in flour. Stir to coat chicken and vegetables and cook an additional minute before proceeding. Stir in milk and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Add thyme, shredded carrots and gnocchi. Reduce heat to low.

Cook about ten minutes - or until gnocchi are tender and soup has thickened - stirring occasionally. Stir in cream.

Stir in spinach. Season with salt and pepper. (A good deal of pepper is recommended.)

Serve immediately. Thin with additional broth {or hot water} if soup becomes too thick prior to time of service. Additionally, soup may need thinned if reheated the next day.

Soup is excellent served with crusty bread for dipping.


Store leftovers in an airtight container in refrigerator.


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