Earlier this year, I shared a lighter version of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup. One of my followers commented that I should make over the Chicken and Gnocchi soup from that restaurant next. Since I also love that soup, I knew I had to try it out. It turned out even better than I expected, and it has become a new favorite in my book! It is so creamy, so flavorful, and so simple to throw together. Simple enough for even a weeknight!
This Chicken and Gnocchi soup has a much creamier base than Zuppa Toscana and also a milder flavor profile. I used this recipe to serve as an inspiration and made some macro-friendly substitutions. The recipe includes chicken, carrots, and some spinach. It also contains gnocchi, which arguably is the star of the show.
If you’ve never heard of Gnocchi before, they are basically Italian dumplings. Usually, they are made with potatoes and flour. They have a wide variety of uses in Italian cooking and is often paired with different types of cheese and sauces. In this soup, they serve as a soft and pillowy bite that replaces noodles. I especially love how they soak up all the flavors of the soup!
- Chicken: Since we are trying to make this soup more macro-friendly, I decided to add quite a bit of chicken to bump up the protein content. I used raw chicken breast that I cooked quickly in a pan. But if you wanted to save some additional time, you could also use rotisserie breast or even leftover Thanksgiving turkey! Just don’t forget to account for the macro changes that happen when you use cooked vs. raw meat.
- Veggies: You’ll add onion, celery, carrot sticks, garlic, and spinach to this soup. This gives the soup some great color but also gives it some nutrients. I bumped up the number of veggies in this soup because I wanted to give it some more volume. Also, my kids rarely complain about veggies when it is in the creamy broth! HA!
- Spices: Besides the traditional salt and pepper, you’ll also add some dried thyme to flavor the dish.
- Chicken stock: I always use chicken stock granules to make my soup, mostly because it’s easier to have on hand. It also is just 5 calories for a cup of prepared chicken stock. If you prefer canned chicken stock or one from the carton, I say go for it!
- Fat-free half and half: The original recipe calls for two cups of half and half. By using fat-free half and half, I saved quite a few fat grams, but was also able to keep the soup creamy.
- Gnocchi: I purchased mine from Wal-Mart and decided to go with traditional gnocchi. Some of you might live near a Trader Joe’s (of that I’m very jealous), so cauliflower gnocchi might be a good way to save some additional carbs. I personally have never had the cauliflower gnocchi, so I don’t know how it would hold up in a soup. I just thought I’d mention that it may be a good substitution.
Once the soup is finished, I like to serve ours with some grated Parmesan on top and crushed red pepper flakes for some heat. My husband and I personally love a little bit of a kick to this soup, although it is optional. We also love serving this soup with some bread (might I recommend these Garlic Parmesan Knots?) and a fresh green salad, similar to the one you might find at Olive Garden.
This recipe would also be perfect for entertaining as it reheats beautifully and could be prepped ahead of time. I made mine the day before, and it is probably even better the next day! If you can’t tell from the ingredient list, this soup is definitely a crowd pleaser and would be fit to serve to someone who isn’t macro counting. I think you and your loved ones are going to love this soup!
Lighter Chicken & Gnocchi Soup
- 2 lbs raw chicken breast
- cooking spray
- 1 onion, diced (250 g)
- 3 stalks celery, diced (157 g)
- 6 ounces shredded carrots (170 g)
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 4 tsp chicken stock granules + 4 cups of water (or 4 cups of chicken stock)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt, to taste
- fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 17.6 ounce package potato gnocchi
- 2 cups fat-free half and half (480 ml)
- 40 g baby spinach leaves
- Before you begin on the soup, cook chicken until no pink remains however you desire (I cooked mine in a pan with cooking spray, but choose whatever works best for you!). Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Spray a large soup pot well with cooking spray. Add in diced onions, celery, shaved carrots, and minced garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the vegetables become translucent.
- Add to the vegetables the chicken stock granules and water, thyme, salt, pepper, and cooked chicken. Turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil.
- Once the soup boils, add in the potato gnocchi. Allow to cook at a boil for about 2 minutes and then turn down the heat so the soup just simmers. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- After 10 minutes, stir in the fat-free half and half and spinach. Allow the spinach to soften and wilt in the soup. Then taste the soup and add more salt and pepper, as desired. Serve and enjoy!