I hate to admit this as a chef, but I do believe I once pronounced Olive Garden to be my favorite restaurant.
Dramatic pause. I mean, I was about 10 years old- so please give me that, and let’s be real- the breadsticks are hot, salty, garlicky and all kinds of delicious (you know they are!).
However, once I grew up and actually visited Italy- even living there for a summer, I knew there was MUCH more to Italian food than heavily dressed salads and alfredo sauce.
But you know, even though it’s no longer my favorite restaurant (I’m not sure if I even have one, at all) I do love a good soup, salad and breadsticks lunch from time to time- and the soup I always order? Chicken Gnocchi, obviously!
Chicken Gnocchi Soup is basically Chicken Noodle Soup’s Italian cousin, with gnocchi in place of the noodles (YUM), Italian seasonings (I use a blend to keep it simple) and a little cream stirred in at the end (leave it out to make it dairy-free- it’s just as delicious).
1 lb chicken breast, diced kosher salt and cracked pepper 1 tbsp olive oil, divided 1 tbsp butter 1 small onion, diced 2 carrots, peeled and diced 2 stalks celery, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 tsp Italian seasoning Sea salt to taste 1 tbsp flour (use gluten-free as needed) 8 oz dry or frozen gnocchi 4 cups low-sodium broth (chicken or vegetable) 2-3 cups baby spinach, packed ¼- ½ cup half and half or heavy cream
1. Dice chicken and season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Set aside.
2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil to medium-high in a large cast-iron or saute pan.
3. Add chicken and cook, flipping as needed, until slightly golden and cooked through, about 8 minutes.
4. In a separate pot or dutch oven, heat an additional drizzle of oil to medium. Add butter to melt.
5. Stir in onion, carrots and celery. Season and cook until mostly soft.
6. Stir in Italian seasoning. Add flour and stir 20-30 seconds.
7. Stir in chicken and cover with broth.
8. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
9. Remove cover, bring to a rolling simmer and add gnocchi. Cook for 5 minutes.
10. Stir in spinach to wilt. Turn off heat, cool slightly and stir in cream or half-and-half. Season to taste and serve.