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Rustic Italian Gnocchi Soup


1 cup water, divided
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
14 ounces fresh sweet Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
4½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup fat-free milk
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Rind from Parmesan cheese
1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and diced
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 package (16 ounces) gnocchi
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, make a slurry by whisking together ½ cup cold water and the flour.

Heat a large nonstick pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces, until cooked through and slightly browned, 4 minutes.

Add remaining ½ cup water, broth, and milk and bring to boil. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, Parmesan rind, roasted peppers, and black pepper and return to a boil. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, slowly stir in the slurry, and continue stirring while the soup returns to a boil.

Add the gnocchi, spinach, and basil. Cook until the gnocchi starts to float to the top and become puffy (or according to the gnocchi package directions) and the soup thickens. Discard the Parmesan cheese rind. Ladle the soup into individual soup bowls and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan.

Makes 8 servings.