Chicken Gnocchi Soup — This Olive Garden copycat recipe is so EASY, made in one pot, and ready in just 30 minutes! There’s an abundance of chicken and tender gnocchi, along with onions, carrots, and garlic for layers of flavor. Fresh spinach adds texture while the creamy broth makes this the ULTIMATE comfort food soup recipe that the whole family will LOVE! We think it’s even BETTER than the restaurant version!
Table of Contents
- Easy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup Recipe
- What I Love About This Olive Garden Copycat Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Do You Love Copycat Recipes? Me too!
- Ingredients in Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- How to Make Creamy Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- What to Serve with Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Bread and Rolls
- Salads and Veggies
- Recipe FAQs
- Storage Instructions
- Chicken Gnocchi Soup Recipe
- More Quick and Easy Chicken Soup Recipes:
Easy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup Recipe
One thing that I like doing after blogging for 15 years is recreate restaurant versions of recipes that I enjoy, but to make them even better than the restaurant version!
This fast and easy chicken gnocchi soup recipe is a copycat from Olive Garden. If you’re American, you know Olive Garden. If you’re not, it’s a fast-casual chain restaurant serving up Italian-inspired dishes that lean heavily onto the comfort food side of things.
And comfort food is this soup’s middle name! There’s an abundance of shredded chicken among tender gnocchi, along with onions, carrots, and garlic for layers of flavor. Fresh spinach adds texture while the creamy broth takes this soup over the top.
What I Love About This Olive Garden Copycat Chicken Gnocchi Soup
This one has all the selling points including that it’s:
- Made in one pot to save on dishes later
- Ready in 30 minutes making it perfect for busy weeknights
- Family friendly recipe that’s picky eater approved
- Uses easy-to-find ingredients that are budget-friendly
- Makes a big enough batch so you have planned leftovers
- It tastes BETTER than the restaurant version and it’s probably a bit healthier too
Do You Love Copycat Recipes? Me too!
Well you came to the right place because I do to. There’s something about recreating that restaurant or coffee shop magic at home that makes me feel so accomplished and satisfied.
And my versions, not to brag but I will, taste better or I wouldn’t say that they do!
Many times they’re healthier and more economical as a bonus. Like this soup!
Here are some favorite copycat recipes I have worked to recreate:
- Olive Garden Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup
- Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
- P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef
- Cracker Barrel Meatloaf
- Starbucks Lemon Loaf
- Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
- Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars
- Starbucks Double Chocolate Brownies
- Crumbl Honeybun Cookies
- Crumbl Confetti Cake Cookies
- Disneyland Churro Toffee
- Low-Fat Wendy’s Frosty
- Starbucks Caramel Macchiato
Note: I am not saying I got the recipe from the restaurants. I am saying I tasted it at the restaurant, went to the grocery store and shopped for logical ingredients, went into my kitchen, and pulled out whatever spices, ingredients, and pots and pans that I thought would get me closest to the real deal. And kept testing until I nailed it.
Ingredients in Chicken Gnocchi Soup
For this better-than-Olive Garden chicken and gnocchi soup, you’ll need the following easy to find and common ingredients from your grocery store:
- Unsalted butter
- Yellow onion
- All-purpose flour
- Low-sodium chicken broth
- Cooked chicken
- Dried thyme – Dried is easy and what I always have , but if you have fresh, that’s fine too. Add about 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme.
- Dried (ground) mustard – I call for this in my Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe and readers say it makes a big difference!
- Fresh spinach
- Black pepper
- Red pepper flakes, optional and to taste
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Creamy Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup
With just 10 minutes of prep time, making this 30-minute total time, one-pot, gnocchi soup with chicken recipe is a cinch!
- Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, add the onions, celery, carrots, and saute for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and sauteeing for 1 minute.
- Sprinkle the flour over the top and cook for 3 minutes. This is called making a roux. It’s very important for thickening your soup later on so don’t shortchange this step!
- Slowly add the chicken broth, half-and-half, chicken, potato gnocchi, thyme, ground mustard, stir, and simmer over medium to medium high heat for 8 to 10 mins.
- Turn off the heat, add the spinach and stir it until wilted.
- Season with salt and pepper, and optional but recommended red pepper flakes, and serve!
What to Serve with Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Whether you want to feel like you’re at Olive Garden with breadsticks and a house salad, or any other type of homemade bread or dinner rolls, or a hunk of a crusty French baguette, this soup is hearty comfort food thanks to all the tender chicken, gnocchi, and the creamy broth. No one will leave hungry! More ideas below.
You want to use cooked chicken that’s been shredded or cubed. Easy options include:
– store bought rotisserie chicken
– leftover homemade whole roasted chicken
– leftover baked chicken
– poached chicken
You can use either light or dark meat but I personally use the chicken breast rather than skinless chicken thighs.
Gnocchi is actually pasta, or little dumplings, made of mashed potatoes, flour, and eggs. While you could make your own, that’s not in my wheelhouse for a quick 30-minute dinner recipe so I use a 16-ounce bag of frozen gnocchi.
Sometimes you’ll find it where “fresh” pastas are sold in the refrigerated case of well-stocked supermarkets.
You can use either frozen (cheaper, more common) or fresh gnocchi (or homemade if you love a project!).
Set it on your countertop while you’re prepping the soup, and then add it at the appropriate time. It doesn’t have to be fully thawed, but softened a bit rather than frozen solid is preferred.
Half-and-half is a popular North American dairy product which is half heavy cream, and half whole milk (3 1/2%).
In my opinion, heavy cream while so lovely and rich, is almost too rich and thick for this soup. A splash is fine, but I wouldn’t use 2 full cups of it. Use half-and-half.
If you’re using milk, I would use whole milk, and at the very least 2% milk. Don’t use 1%, skim. And you’d have to experiment to see if nondairy milk products can give you the richness you’ll need.
If you live in a country where you can’t find half-and-half, use half heavy cream and half whole milk.
No you don’t if you have a spinach hater in your family. However, wilted in soup is a great way to sneak in some extra greenery if you’re trying to add some more nutrients to you or your family’s overall diet.
I like to use fresh spinach, but frozen is acceptable. Just note that the flakey form of frozen spinach will look more like green glitter that kind of erupted. Not bad, won’t taste bad, but visually it will just have a very different look than the ribbon-like strands of fresh spinach.
Kale is also a great option, in addition to – or instead of – the spinach if you have some to use.
Yes you can, but you will need to adapt it. As a jumping off point, I recommend using my Crockpot version of Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup. In the recipe card section I provide slow cooker directions which will give you a general idea how to make my version of olive garden’s chicken gnocchi soup recipe in a slow cooker.
Extra soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.
While I don’t actively encourage freezing dairy-based soup recipes, because of the fat in the half and half, the soup should be fine to freeze airtight for up to 3 months.
Reheat leftovers gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, taking care not to overheat them because you don’t want the dairy proteins to split from using too high of heat.
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Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 large celery rib, diced small
- ½ cup carrots, peeled and julienned
- 3 to 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups half-and-half*
- 2 cups cooked chicken*, shredded or diced small
- 16 ounces gnocchi, frozen or fresh
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional but recommended, or to taste
- To a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot, add the butter, onions, celery, carrots, and saute over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, or until vegetables are beginning to soften; stir very frequently. Tip – Make sure the carrots are cut thin enough. You don't have to julienne them (which is matchstick style) and can dice them or slice them into thin rounds, but because they are the toughest vegetable, they'll take the longest to cook and later on biting into hard carrots that weren't quite cooked long enough is unappetizing.
- Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute; stir constantly.
- Evenly sprinkle the flour over the top and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes; stir nearly constantly. Tips – You are making a roux here. Later on, this helps to thicken the soup so don't shortchange this step for that reason. Also, you want to cook the flour sufficiently so that you're not left with any raw flour taste in the finished soup. The color should be a golden to medium amber color after 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly and evenly pour in the reduced sodium chicken broth, half-and-half, chicken*, gnocchi, thyme, mustard (both these seasonings are highly recommended but if you don't have one, yes you can omit it), stir to combine, and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until gnocchi is soft and tender. Tips – See the notes below for extra info. I use a bag of frozen gnocchi that I allow to sit on my counter for about 15 minutes before adding it; it doesn't need to be completely thawed but not rock hard is good. Make sure not to let the soup come to a roaring boil after adding the dairy, just a nice and gentle simmer. You run the risk of the dairy proteins breaking and you'd have to start over if you let the heat output get too high or the boil is too hard/fast.
- Turn off the heat, add the spinach (I add a couple big handfuls, which is more than 1 cup, you can also use kale) and stir until it wilts. The carryover heat from the broth will wilt it. I don't like the appearance/texture of frozen spinach here but you can technically use it.
- Add the salt, pepper, optional but recommended red pepper flakes for flavor (they don't really add heat in this small quantity), stir, taste, and make any necessary flavor adjustments. Tip – If the soup tastes at all flat, boring, or dull, it probably needs more salt. I use about 3 to 4 teaspoons total, which sounds like a lot but because I use reduced sodium broth, and I'm flavoring a huge pot of soup, I find it really does need this much. Don't be shy with salt if you want this to taste like a true restaurant copycat!
- Serve immediately. Extra soup will keep airtight for up to 5 days in the fridge or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Tip – Take special care when reheating and/or thawing + reheating the soup not to use too high of heat. Anything with dairy needs a bit more caution so it doesn't break. I use my microwave but you can do it in a small pot on the stovetop.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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