Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chicken & Gnocchi Soup

The other night I was really wanting some comfort food and since I have been kind of on a soup kick lately why not have another soup. I couldn't stop getting Olive Garden out of my head.
This is my 2nd favorite soup from the Olive Garden. But alas, my husband and I knew that we were already going to be eating out this week on another night so I had to improvise and have the restaurant come to me. So I made a whole evening out of it.
Not only did I make this soup but I made a copycat version of their bread sticks as well and served it with yet another version of their salad. Topped the evening off with some Andes mints and hey we had a wonderful date night at home (AND IT COSTS A LOT LESS TO)
This soup was wonderful. It tasted very similar to the one at Olive Garden. Its also incredibly easy to prepare and doesn't take long at all. Perfect for a fall weeknight.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth (if you enjoy a thicker soup, use 1 can)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
1 (16-ounce/500g) package ready-to-use gnocchi

Melt the butter into the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the half-and-half. Simmer until thickened. Whisk in the chicken broth. Simmer until thickened again. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, the thyme, parsley, nutmeg (if using), carrots, spinach, chicken, and gnocchi. Simmer until the soup is heated through. Before serving, season with additional salt, if necessary.

**Randi's Side Notes**
~ I personally thought that the herbs should have been added in right away. They didn't really get much time to develop any flavor into the creamy broth so next time I will probably add them in when I add the broth or possibly even the at the beginning. I also may try using fresh herbs next time. I just prefer the flavor of fresh vs. dried.
~ I LOVED the nutmeg in it. It really brought out a warming flavor in it. And I personally thought that made it taste more like Olive Gardens.
~ I did use packaged gnocchi from the store but I think next time I may try going to a bakery and getting some freshly made ones. The boxed ones were okay but They were a little tough to get through.
~ Also, next time event though I thought the broth had good flavor, I don't know if I will do a whole thing of half and half. I thought the broth was a little to thick so I will probably just use some milk next time, or possibly just use half chicken broth and half half and half. (that was a lot of half's)

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