Hearty Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

I am so embarrassed by how much I’m *not* blogging lately.  Ok fine, I’m not embarrassed, but I do apologize to my faithful and loyal readers. =P  I cooked and baked so much over the weekend, so expect to see those recipes soon, but first I bring you this chicken and gnocchi soup by Mel’s Kitchen Café which was so, so good.  It is definitely more of a fall/winter dish, because it’s thick, creamy, comforting, etc. etc.  I mainly made it because I had an extra package of Trader Joe’s gnocchi laying around in my cabinet just waiting to go bad (I think it was set to expire in November?).  After buying gnocchi several times, I discovered that I’m not sure if I’m the biggest fan of using it as pasta (which I’ve done before).  I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s so thick and whatever other words I’m thinking of but can’t place, so that turns me off.  But in a hearty cream soup, it is perfect!

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I omitted the spinach from this recipe, partially because we didn’t have any, but partially because I’m not a huge cooked spinach fan.  I’m also pretty sure that I used more carrot and onion than the recipe called for, because (confession time) I rarely measure those kinds of vegetables.  I tend to just throw in whatever amount looks good.  I will say that the carrots made this soup so, so sweet.  I had to add in a TON of freshly ground salt and pepper at the end to balance out the sweetness.  It took more grinds than normal to even taste the salt and pepper (normally I hate adding salt to dishes).  I loved this soup, but Kevin thought it was only so-so.  He is not a fan of cooked carrots, so he had to pick those out.  Normally I am not a fan of cooked carrots either, but these were just cooked enough to be softened, but not cooked so much that they were completely mushy.  Also, it was too thick for his taste.  The original recipe states that this can be thinned out by adding extra milk or chicken broth at the very end, but I didn’t realize that he wasn’t going to be a fan of the thick-ness.  Had it been thinned out a little, he would have enjoyed it a lot more (but he still ate an entire bowl).  It provided enough for us for dinner, plus 3 days worth of leftovers for me to have for lunch!  Also, this is one of those “one pot wonders” that incorporates every food group, and is hearty enough to not need any additional side dishes (though I did serve it with rolls).

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Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

serves at least 5

Ingredients:
-1tbsp olive oil
-1 medium onion, diced (about 1/2cu)
-1cu chopped carrots
-1/2tsp dried thyme
-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
-1/4cu all-purpose flour
-2cu fat free half-and-half
-1cu lowfat milk (I used skim, cuz that’s all we buy)
-1cu low-sodium chicken broth
-16oz package gnocchi
-1-2cu cooked, shredded or diced chicken breasts
-1cu fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (I omitted this)
-Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
-In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the chopped onion, carrots and thyme. Cook until the onion is translucent and carrots are slightly tender, stirring often, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
-Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until the flour is lightly golden, 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half, then the milk and chicken broth. Stir while bringing the mixture to a boil over medium to medium-high heat.
-Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is slightly thickened, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the uncooked gnocchi and simmer over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-The soup should thicken up a bit while the gnocchi is cooking. Stir in the chicken and spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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