Saturday, November 5, 2016

Olive Garden Inspired Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Chicken Gnocchi soup!  One of Sweet Girl's favorite soups is the Chicken Gnocchi soup at Olive Garden.  I've tried a few copy cat recipes, but they never got it just right, so I tinkered with it until I came up with a recipe that we all just love.  Please enjoy!

Olive Garden Inspired Chicken Gnocchi Soup

• 3 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 onion, finely diced
• 1/2 cup carrot, finely diced (or shredded from a package)
• 1/2 cup celery, finely diced (about two large stalks)
• 4-8 medium to large cloves garlic, minced, divided
• I Tablespoon each Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, plus more to add later
• 1 Tablespoon ground thyme (or fresh, if available. If using fresh, remove from stems and chop fine)
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into bite sized pieces (see recipe below)
• 3/4 cup Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
• 6 cups chicken broth (plus extra as needed)
• 2 pints half & half
• 2 (16 ounce) packages potato gnocchi
• ½ bag fresh baby spinach, stems removed
• freshly grated Parmesan and/or Romano, for serving

For the chicken:
• Remove skin of 6 chicken thighs, 4 chicken breasts, or any combination and place in a baking pan (Thighs are really good!)
• Sprinkle the pieces with olive oil and flip to coat.
• Season each piece with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, thyme; flip pieces and repeat
• Coat the top of each piece liberally with half of the minced garlic.
• Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 25 minutes.  It’s OK if the meat isn’t completely finished cooking; it will finish in the soup.
• Shred or cut the meat into bite size pieces, removing extra fat and connective tissue.

For the soup:
• In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and oil together over medium heat.
• Add onion, carrots, celery and half of the garlic. Mix.
• Season with kosher salt, freshly ground white pepper, and thyme.
• Cook until tender over medium-low heat; about 10 minutes, stirring often.
• Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, and cook 3 minutes, stirring often.
• Stir in the wine, then the chicken broth 1 cup at a time, followed by the half & half.
• Add the cooked chicken. Bring up to a simmer.
• After 10 minutes, add the gnocchi and stir. Cook until the gnocchi rises to the top.
• Add the spinach and simmer until the spinach is wilted, stirring often.
• If the soup seems too thick, add some more chicken broth to the consistency you like it.
• Season with salt and pepper to taste.
• Return to low and cook an additional 5-8 minutes to allow all the flavors to mix.
• Serve with grated cheese and garlic bread sticks.

Makes approximately 10-12 servings.  While leftovers do not freeze well, you can refrigerate for three days and it tastes wonderful! Recipe can also be halved.