Hearty Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

I quite enjoy soup all year round, if you want to know the truth, but I finally feel liberated and free about posting soup recipes now that soup season has “officially started” (just trying to avoid the hate mail here – nothing spawns more anger than posting soup in July, apparently).

Although I’m sure I have many more soups to look forward to over the next chilly months, I do have to say that I’m having a hard time not declaring this soup my absolute favorite of the season. Honest to goodness, this soup is so deliciously wonderful and was one of the first things I made after trying out my new, favorite way of cooking chicken for recipes that call for, well, cooked chicken.

I found the soup via several copycat type recipes online and decided I had to change the method considerably (I, for one, didn’t want to dirty up several pots so I streamlined it to be a one-pot wonder and I also wanted to lighten it up a bit, taking out 7 tablespoons of fat and using fat free half-and-half). I was blown away by the finished soup. Thick and creamy and so, so hearty, this soup is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal. Each bite is like a delicious taste of decadent soup heaven filled with tender bites of chicken, pillows of gnocchi (how I love thee, gnocchi, and someday I will really, truly make you from scratch), a smattering of veggies and just simple, great flavor.

Considering we are expecting snow this week, I have a feeling this soup may be on the menu at least once, probably twice, in the next few days. When I find a good thing, I have a hard time letting go, what can I say.

Hearty Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

What To ServeSoft Pretzel RollsΒ or Chewy Pretzel Bites
Spinach Strawberry Salad with Homemade Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing
Fresh, seasonal fruit

One Year Ago: Texas-Style Blueberry Cobbler
Two Years Ago: Bavarian Apple Torte
Three Years Ago: Perfect Pumpkin Roll

Hearty Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Yield: Serves 4-6

Hearty Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Note: This soup is thick and hearty. If you like a less thick soup, simply add more liquid (either milk or chicken broth). I'd suggest adding it at the end with the chicken and spinach, after the soup has thickened. Vacuum-sealed packages of gnocchi are usually in the pasta aisle of the grocery store. I've also seen frozen gnocchi, too, so check both places if you can't find it.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat free half-and-half
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 16 ounce package gnocchi
  • 1-2 cups cooked, shredded or diced chicken breasts
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a 4- or 5-quart pot, 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.
  2. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking or stirring constantly, until the flour is lightly golden, 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half. Whisk in the milk and chicken broth. Stir while bringing the mixture to a boil over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. 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 quite 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 and serve.

Recipe Source: adapted from copycat recipes I found online, including this one

82 Responses to Hearty Chicken Gnocchi Soup

  1. Amanda says:

    I made this for dinner tonight. It is even better than the restaurant version as I remember it. So yummy and creamy and wonderfully filling. Thank you for another wonderful recipe to add to my list!

  2. Therese says:

    I rarely comment, though I’ve made SO so many of your recipes, but my husband and I are on a gnocchi kick lately, and I decided to make this last night. It was a huge hit! I had to add a lot more salt than I normally would, and used all milk/broth instead of half-n-half, but it was still creamy and thick. Thank you Mel!

  3. Anya says:

    This soup looks incredible. I have a question though – if I didn’t want to include chicken in the recipe, would I have to alter the other ingredients somehow? Or can I just leave it out, add vegetable broth & call it good? I’m a total newbie at cooking.

  4. Sharon says:

    Looks like a great soup. It could use a pinch of nutmeg, and a splash of white wine would be an elegant addition.

  5. Michelle says:

    Did this one vegetarian style tonight, and with milk in place of half and half. Probably not as thick, but still supper yummy. Also, I’ll add another package of gnocchi and more veggies next time since I left out the chicken.

  6. Becca says:

    I love this soup and have made it quite a few times, but every time I do it is WAY too thick. I’ve tried adding more chicken stock. Do you have any suggestions? It always ends up being a paste, even though I’m not letting it simmer or sit. Thanks so much.

    • Mel says:

      That’s odd, Becca – but maybe it’s due to the brand of gnocchi you are using (some have more flour in them and also coating them which could thicken up the soup). You might try completely eliminating the flour in the recipe to see if that helps.

  7. Tara says:

    Do you think I could sub out MORE fat free half and half for the milk too? Would it be creamy enough and still thicken? We don’t keep milk in usually and I just was wondering for the ease of grocery shopping πŸ™‚ Thanks in advance! I can’t wait to try this!!

    • Mel says:

      Tara – I haven’t tried subbing out any of the milk so I’m not sure how all fat free half and half would do in the soup. Certainly worth a try – not sure if it will be quite as creamy, though. Good luck!

  8. Jess says:

    Made this for the first time for my in-laws and it was addictively delicious! It wasn’t complicated or labor-intensive and again, just so good! I could eat it alll day. I did whole wheat flour and whole wheat gnoccis and used veggie broth since my father-in-law is vegetarian. Was impressed it came out soo good with those trades! Would recommend that trade for those needing to add more fiber and nutrients!

  9. Carlie says:

    Could I use regular half and half in this? I tend to stay away from anything fat free because of the chemicals added into it.

  10. […] Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. […]

  11. Kate says:

    Hi Mel – Do you have a favorite brand of store bought gnocchi? I’ve tried a few and I’m never impressed. I can always trust you to recommend the best!

    • Mel says:

      Kate – I’ve only bought DaVinci and a local brand (when I lived in Wisconsin – it was handmade) but I’m experimenting making my own and keeping it in the freezer because storebought gnocchi can be hit and miss!

  12. Amber says:

    This was great! I used all 2% milk because that’s what I had. I used potatoes instead of spinach. My friend and I enjoyed it and I will make it again. Now I have some tasty leftovers for lunch :-).

  13. truthspew says:

    I modified this slightly. In added celery and leeks. And didn’t use the spinach. It’s pretty good that way.

  14. Mike says:

    Great soup for this time of year! I made this but substituted the chicken broth for a homemade vegetable stock so that I could really control the salt, i.e., practically none. Worked out very nicely.

  15. Erin says:

    I have been really excited about this recipe and finally made it tonight. The only problem was that the purple carrots left in my garden turned the soup very purple. No hiding it. It is testiment to how much they trust you that everyone ate it “this is Mel, right?”.

  16. Chelai says:

    My family and I really liked this. It is a very hearty soup like you said. I used WW Gnocchi and no carrots, the only changes. My fam told me it was good but too much gnocchi so next time I will halve it but I loved it as is and having leftovers for lunch today!

  17. Marlee says:

    Is it fate that I made this soup exactly one year after you posted it? Well, I’d like to think so, but something about October just begs a hearty soup. And it was incredible. And I LOVED your chicken cooking method. I even poured the excess chicken juices (which sounds horrible, but was not!) from the skillet into the soup to give it more of that perfectly roasted flavor. I made this with your whole wheat dinner muffins and it was a wild success!

  18. Carolyn says:

    You can get Pasta di Casa Mia gnocchi (a product of Italy) at Costco. It comes in a yellow and white box with 4 – 1 lb. packs inside. I just picked up some last night. I googled the soup and came up with your website. Thanks.

  19. Sarah says:

    I would love to make this for the weekend! It looks so yummy that I don’t even care about it being summer time LOl.
    I have only tried gnocchi a few times only at OG. I like how fluffy it is and melts in the mouth. Can you share some brands or links where I can find gnocchi like that so I can make this? Thanks so much!!!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Sarah – I’ve bought several brands over the years and quite honestly can’t remember the name (maybe DaVinci was one?). I’ve also made my own gnocci with ricotta and it is super easy and delicious. The blog Budget Bytes has a great ricotta gnocchi recipe (google it and it should come up).

  20. Shelly says:

    Made this tonight! And LOVED it!! It is a perfect comfort soup! πŸ™‚

  21. Jennifer says:

    Made this last night, YUM!

  22. […] Source: Slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen CafΓ© […]

  23. Terri says:

    I’m trying this tonight. Of course I’m doubling the recipe because I have a large, hungry family. I, too love the soup at Olive Garden and hope this soup will be just as good or better. Can’t wait to try it!

  24. Char says:

    Wow! Made this tonight and it is amazing! I did swap out the half and half for whole milk and added a little extra milk and chicken broth. My son especially liked the

  25. Chelsea says:

    I’m making this tonight, Mel! Can’t wait. I have made homemade gnocchi and it is from heaven…here’s the link! http://mmmcafe.blogspot.com/2012/07/homemade-gnocchi.html

  26. Jenn W. says:

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was really good and very easy to make. I’ve never eaten gnocchi before. I actually used the leftover chicken from your Salsa Verde tostadas, so we had a little different taste to it, but it was still really good.

  27. Shelley says:

    This was the first time I used fat free half and half and I was scared, but it worked really well! No funny taste or anything. I will be using the base of this soup to make clam chowder soon. Thanks!

  28. […] Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  29. Natalie says:

    Made this tonight— going in the binder! Loved it!

  30. Cheryl says:

    Had a house full of boys so; I made this tonight. To extend the soup; I added a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and used 1/2 rotisserie chicken (also tossed in a bay leaf for good measure). They all asked for 2nds and 3rds! Thanks for your recipe. Will be adding this to the Boy Scout Camp Out Rotation Too!!

  31. daphne says:

    I’m in love with this recipe!!! Soup have been my latest obsession, and I think I’ll be trying this recipe out very soon! Happy to have found your lovely blog!

  32. Alisha says:

    Made this last night — so yummy! I even found whole wheat, sweet potato gnocchi.

  33. Jane says:

    This was fabulous! I was looking for a quick soup as it is most certainly ‘soup season’ – and between the pantry and freezer I had everything needed! Oh, except spinach, so I threw in a few peas, which were appreciated by my kids but not my husband! Thanks for the great recipe.

  34. Haley Oakes says:

    Mel you are a hit again at my house! This was the perfect meal for a cold, drippy day outside. Thanks for all of your hard work! I’m a much better cook because of it. πŸ™‚

  35. dj says:

    oh, and the recipe for potato gnocchi looks good, too-my step grandma was Italian, and she would roll the dough into long ropes about an inch thick, then cut the rope into pieces. Then she would take each gnocchi, and roll it against a cheese grater to give it a dimpled look.

  36. dj says:

    made this for dinner tonight-why didn’t anybody tell me to make a double batch? this is insanely delicious!

  37. Tiffany says:

    Thank you for your response! That was my guess, too, that they would get mushy.

  38. Mel says:

    Tiffany – I haven’t kept gnocchi warm for an extensive period of time but they are pretty similar to other pastas so I’m thinking they might get a little bit too soft and mushy if you kept them warm for too long. Perhaps you could try keeping the rest of the soup warm in the crockpot and right before serving, cook the gnocchi separately on the stove and add it to the soup. Good luck!

  39. Tiffany says:

    I would love to make this for Sunday when many relatives will be over for lunch after church. Does the gnocchi get gluey or mushy if kept warm in a crock-pot for awhile? Or if made ahead? I don’t think I’ve ever used it before. Thanks for any suggestions!!

  40. Pauline says:

    I made this last night and it is ABSOLUTELY going to be in my Top 5 favorites soups…and that’s saying a lot. I love making soup and could eat it at every meal…including breakfast. Oh MY!!!! And the fact that you were able to lighten it up, well, you would have never know (I’ve not had much luck with FF 1/2& 1/2). Will definitely be on the table OFTEN!!!

  41. Melanie says:

    I made this last night and it was a big hit with my family! I found a Potato Gnocchi recipe a couple of weeks ago and I have been wanting to try it. So I tried it last night in this soup, and I must say it was very yummy, and even more filling! My kids (6 &3) helped me make them and they were so excited to eat the food they made. Here is the recipe if you wish to try it yourself…although it needs more salt in the dough, something I will have to play around with to get the right measurement of.

    2 Medium Potatoes (I used a type of russet)
    1 TBS butter
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 egg yolk
    1 to 1-1/2 cups of flour

    Peel and boil potatoes until tender and drain. In a bowl combine hot potatoes, butter and salt. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add egg yolk and 1/4 cup of flour. Beat until smooth. By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for 4-5 minutes. With generously floured hands, shape dough into balls, using about 1 tsp dough for each ball. Crease the center of each ball with the handle of a wooden spoon (to get the traditional gnocchi shape). Cook in a large pot of boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Remove from water and drain on paper towels.

    Thanks for all your recipes, we love your blog and cook from it sooo very often!

  42. Kim Rackham says:

    Definitely want to try this!! Love that it’s lighter and easier! Great job! I love your blog!

  43. Cyndi L says:

    Made this tonight for dinner and served it with fresh buns. Absolutely excellent! Hearty and extremely filling and it takes a lot to fill me up! This recipe is much better than Olive Garden. Thank you once again for another winning recipe.

    Ps..I was so sorry to hear about your grandmother. My thoughts are with you.

  44. Cait says:

    This looks so delicious! I have to admit that I’d probably undo all your fat-lowering work though – I’m much more afraid of what’s in the fat free half and half!
    My husband and I looove your recipes πŸ™‚

  45. Katie says:

    This soup is so delicious! It was hearty, silky, and creamy. I have never had gnocchi before, but I came across the Cooks Illustrated recipe via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures and decided to give it a try. I didn’t have a ricer, so I grated my potatoes and it turned out really yummy! Like I said, I’ve never had them before, so I don’t know how it compares to restaurant/store bought, but my husband and I loved them!

  46. kandi victorino says:

    Mel-my husband and i had a lunchtime date at Olive Garden yesterday and I had this particular soup, and it was sooo yummy! I can’t wait to try this out! Thanks!

  47. Just discovering your awesome blog. You are definitely making my mouth water with your great recipes. Just read your bio & it was good to find that I am not the only woman in America without a double oven! *Wink* I’ll be back to try some of your ideas – in the meantime, call me if you need a taster!

    Warmly, Michelle

  48. Rebecca Hale says:

    Gnocchi is available via Amazon subscribe and save, and often cheaper than at my grocery store, although Amazon prices, of course, can fluctuate wildly.

  49. Traci P says:

    This is one of our favorite soups…I tried it at an Italian chain restauant (probably where your copy cat recipe was from) and re-created it at home. I wanted to mention one thing that we do differently, which I think simplfies it just a bit more. We use ground chicken and it’s delicious! If I don’t have any shredded chicken frozen and don’t feel like cleaning up chicken breasts, I just dump in a pound, or two of ground.

  50. Jillian Mitchell says:

    I quite enjoy soup too, and I think I could eat it every day! I usually put some kind of soup, or stew on the menu once a week. This one is going on the next menu! We are expecting some snow this weeken here in Colorado, where are you?

  51. Jeanene says:

    I like soup year around also! I have always found it funny that people will think nothing of eating a hot meal year around anytime, but have an aversion to soup in the summer!!! Keep up the great work & recipes…

  52. Brenda says:

    Why is it that people have a problem with soup in the summer?! After all, we eat other hot meals when the weather is warmer! I don’t have a blog, so I may have to send you my fabulous Green Bean Dumpling Soup I created fro several recipes last winter so you can post it. I’ve been craving it, lately, and would love to share it with other fellow soup lovers!

  53. Holly says:

    Yum, I LOVE gnocchi! Can’t wait to try this one.

  54. TrishInFL says:

    I started Weight Watchers not long ago, so I’m more than excited to see this recipe, thank you!

  55. Teresa says:

    This recipe is fabulous. I’ve tried two others, and I prefer this one. This soup is my favorite, and this recipe is far better than Olive Garden’s! Thanks so much for making it easier to make.

  56. Detje Bea says:

    this looks delicious. I am going to try it.

  57. Stephanie says:

    I just want to know when the recipe for homemade gnocchi is going to make its appearance!

  58. Curly Girl Foodie says:

    Being a Northern Minnesota girl myself I was thrilled to see a recipe that has gnocchi. Mel, love your food blog and can’t wait to hear about the adventures you have ‘up north’.

  59. Allyson says:

    So glad I’m not the only one that craves soup occasionally in the summer! Keep the delicious soup varieties coming!

  60. Melissa Howell says:

    This looks fantastic! No snow forecast for the Denver area, but definitely cooler temps are on the way (my parents in Northern MN, however, are prepared for the white stuff). Thanks for another great recipe, can’t wait to try this one!

  61. Alicia says:

    I also cook soup all year long, but I’ve been making it at least once a week the last month or so, and I am so very glad to see you post this recipe. My very favorite soup is your creamy white chili, and I use nonfat half and half for that, and I have a bunch left from when I made it last week. Now I know where it’s going! Creamy white chili might have some competition if this is as good as you say…

  62. Marna says:

    WOW snow! I’m still in 100 degree heat, that is what I get for living in California! I can’t wait to try this soup but I will have to wait until it gets a little cooler in my neck of the woods.

  63. Brittany C. says:

    SNow?!? You’re kidding right? We’re still hitting 100 degrees around here. Send some of that cold weather to AZ, please! I’m patiently, or impatiently, waiting for the high to be in the 90’s so I can justify getting my soup on. I. can’t. wait. This one looks awesome! Can’t wait to try it out!

  64. Noooo not snow!! haha. I’m sure we will be getting it here in NY very soon, too. Yuck. This soup looks amazing! I am going to give it a try

  65. Kayla says:

    I’m so glad you made this one-pot and a little bit lighter! I’ve done this recipe in it’s original incarnation a couple times (and we LOVE it) but I’m always up for making something lighter and easier!

  66. Carole says:

    It’s not nice of you to curse. S-N-O-W is a dirty four-letter word in his house!

  67. Minnesota Red says:

    Hello from Duluth, MN! Yes, snow is on the radar and this recipe has arrived in the nick of time!
    Regarding homemade gnocchi, Cook’s Country on PBS just had a show on last week and they made gnocchi~ it required the baking and ricing of the potatoes, letting them sit out to release their steam moisture so the dough doesn’t get too wet and gluey.

    I love your site; so glad I came across it!

  68. StephenC says:

    Gnocchi, gnocchi.
    “Who’s there?”
    “Mark’s who?”
    “Marx brothers – gnocchi, gnocchi!”

  69. Ann Baker says:

    I feel like we are kindred spirits when it comes to food, especially soup! I will definitely be making this one soon and maybe throw in some of the swiss chard in my garden that I fear is not long for this world, given the weekend forecast here in Chicago. Stay warm!

  70. I am so making this for dinner this week! I actually have a package of gnocchi in my pantry that needs to be used and this is perfect! PS: I couldn’t be more excited about soup season either! Except since you are expecting snow (say whaaat?) you have more of a reason to make it than I since we are still in the 80’s during the day (cool nights and mornings though!!!).

  71. Mel says:

    Christina – that’s actually a great idea! I included a link in the post but here it is:

    I may have missed one or two that fit in that category over the years, but it should have the majority. By the way, those apple toffee blondies on your blog look amazing!

  72. sara says:

    yum! although it won’t snow in the Twin Cities this weekend, it is going to get COLD. I can’t wait to try this!

  73. Sue says:

    I’m so excited to try this recipe. thanks for sharing.

  74. Danae says:

    I made this exact copycat recipe last winter and LOVED it! I’m excited to try your version.

  75. I LOVE that you made this in 1-pot only! How about a link of all your 1-pot meals?! I say that because I enjoyed your 30-minute meals link up so much.I keep referring to it over and over. You don’t have to do it, I don’t mean to pressure you. You’ve got a lot going on!

  76. Kim in MD says:

    You are expecting snow this week? That’s just crazy! I hope you found your winter clothes! πŸ™‚ This soup looks so warm and comforting, and love that you lightened it up. I have never made gnocchi either. When you perfect a gnocchi recipe then I will give it a try! πŸ™‚

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