Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup, Olive Garden Style

The boy and I really do love Olive Garden! Especially if we can make it early for lunch and have the unlimited soup, salad and bread sticks deal. Yummm! Unfortunately with my trip back I didn't get a chance to visit the Italian place, so I found this wonderful recipe through handy dandy Recipezaar posted by Anne G. Now, I can't say it's EXACT like the talented chefs at Olive Garden, but I will say it's pretty darn close and totally cured my ache for the stuff!

I changed the recipe a bit by chopping instead of shredding my carrot and dicing my celery. I'm one of those people who like big chunks of stuff in their soup (except for the garlic, eep!)

If you don't want to use frozen gnocchi or can't find it at your local grocery store Ken at A Food Year has a great homemade recipe that is minimal ingredients and is very simple! Check out his other stuff as well, he's got plenty of good eats that are on my to-do list! :)

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
adapted from Anne G.'s recipe at Recipezaar

3-4 chicken breasts, cut into pieces and cooked to "nearly done" (see note)
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 carrot, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper
16 ounces potato gnocchi, frozen
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)

Saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.
Add chicken, chicken stock, half and half, salt and pepper, thyme.
Heat to boiling, then add gnocchi. Gently boil for 4 minutes, then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Add spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted. (Heat to boiling and add cornstarch dissolved in 1-2 Tbsp water at this point if you want a thicker soup.)
Ladle into bowls and enjoy! (Original recipe says it serves 8-10, but I'd say around 4-6 depending on your household and how many boys in it that loooove food!)

Note: The original recipe called for the chicken to be already pre-cooked, but I feared it would be dried out and over cooked by the end of the soup making process. On medium-high heat I cooked my chicken until nearly done and set aside until the recipe called for me to plunk the suckers in! The results? Deliciously tender chicken!

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