Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Olive Garden Copy

I ate at Olive Garden the other night and ordered the Chicken Gnocchi soup. It was beyond all my expectations!

Generally, after Thanksgiving, I make turkey noodle soup - this year, we weren't home for Thanksgiving, so my kids made me promise to make our traditional Thanksgiving dinner for Christmas and to make our traditional Christmas dinner for New Years - love that my kiddos are as flexible as I am:)

So, we had some left over turkey - and I wanted to eat it in a different way - food I have + food inspiration = pure awesomeness...

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

1 T extra virgin oil
4 T butter
4 T flour
1 qt half and half
1/2 c celery, finely diced
1 onion, diced
1 t minced garlic
24 oz chicken stock
1 c carrots, diced
Turkey or chicken breasts, cooked and diced (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
1 package gnocchi, cooked  (you can find these in gourmet/pasta section of the grocery store - you may want to cut the gnocchi in half if it is large, or purchase the mini size if available) or you can be a super fancy pants and make your own - easiest recipe HERE!! 
1 c of fresh spinach coarsely chopped
1/2 t salt
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t parsley
1/4 t nutmeg

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic over medium heat in the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the flour and make a roux (your veg should be coated in a paste at this point. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 1 quart of half and half. I added 1/2 a quart and mixed it in well before adding the rest. It's better not to "shock" your components together - hot roux + cold (refrigerated half and half) - you do the math. Cook gnocchi according to package directions - or if you are a fancy pants, cook according to those directions.

Into the roux, add in the carrots and chicken. Once the mixture becomes thick, add the chicken stock. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasoning; simmer until soup is heated through.  Before serving season to taste by adding additional salt.

*For Christmas dinner, I made Alton Brown's Super-Tasty, No-Fuss, Time-Tested, Totaly Foolproof Bird as that recipe calls for Thyme (an herb/aromatic that pairs beautifully with poultry), I wanted to make sure to add that into the soup - thyme adds another flavor level to the soup. I have no idea if Olive Garden uses thyme in their soup.  

My nearly 10 year old pickiest eater on the planet took one bite and said "I just got a one way ticket to FLAVORTOWN - and I'm lovin' it!" Super delicious, super hearty, great way to use extra turkey or chicken.

Easy Gnocchi

We stuck with my husbands family tradition of going to dinner at the Olive Garden for Christmas Eve. The only time we eat there is that on that night - so I try to be adventurous. 

You can have soup or salad with your entree so I ordered a new menu item, Chicken and Gnocchi soup to try. My 8 year old foodie tried the Zuppa Toscana Soup - also very good!

Anyway, if you can believe it - I had never eaten gnocchi before that night. Ever. I'm pretty sure that is considered a sin in some cultures. 

I've heard of it - and have known for a while what it is - but only because I watch Top Chef:)

I was feeling very much like a fancy pants making these - but they were so easy, I didn't need my fancy pants on at all - hahaha

Easy Gnocchi
1 (1-pound) russet potato

1/2 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 c flour

Pierce the potato all over with a fork. Microwave the potato until tender, turning once, about 12 minutes. Cut the potato in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the potato well. Mash in the salt and pepper. Mix in the egg. Sift the flour over the potato mixture and knead just until blended.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece between your palms and the work surface into a 1/2-inch-diameter rope (about 20 inches long). Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough over a wooden paddle with ridges or over the tines of a fork to form grooves in the dough. *a step I skipped bc it is going into soup.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the gnocchi from the pot and serve (however you are going to use them – in this particular case, I’m making a copy of Olive Garden’s Chicken and Gnocchi soup.

*Adapted from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jen's Chicken Noodle Soup

I've never liked chicken noodle soup. Growing up it meant soup from a can - YUCK! My brother and I flat out refused to eat it - so my Mom was forced to find something else to feed us when we were sick. She found Lipton Soup Secrets Extra Noodle Soup and my brother and I were in heaven. To this day, the only thing we like to eat when we are sick is Lipton Soup Secrets Extra Noodle Soup. We call it "Sick Soup" it makes us feel better. At any given moment, you can open my pantry and find at least 2 boxes of the stuff. My kids love it too.

We ALL got a horrible flu last week - all 6 of us. My 9 year old must've lost 5 lbs - he looked like a skeleton!! Thank goodness for tender mercies as I was the last to get it and the first to start feeling better. Once we determined that it was okay to eat again, my daughter asked me "isn't chicken noodle soup supposed to make you feel better?" Well, yes - but I knew we couldn't stomach that stuff in a can (haha - I'm so funny).

SO - I did a little recipe hunting to get ideas - then took a look at what I had on hand. From my research, it seems like egg noodles are used most often in the soup. We have an egg allergy in our house - so we never have egg noodles here. One problem... we only had spaghetti noodles. Light bulb moment - use the Lipton Soup Secrets Extra Noodle Soup. Man oh man was this soup good. I had 3 servings!! My daughter said "they're right! chicken noodle soup does make you feel better!!" A new favorite was born...

Jen's Chicken Noodle Soup
2 T butter
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
Carrots, amount and diced to your liking
Celery, amount and diced to your liking
1/2 t chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
3 T flour
48 oz chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 rotisserie chicken - chicken removed from the bone
2 packets of Lipton Soup Secrets Extra Noodle Soup
Dash Tabasco*
Dash Worcestershire sauce*
1/4 c dill*

Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, celery and carrots and saute until the celery and onions are soft. The carrots will still have a little bite in them - but don't worry - they'll be perfectly soft when the soup is done. Add garlic and saute until fragrant (1 min). Stir in the flour one tablespoon at a time and stir frequently until it coats the vegetables and makes a paste and looks blonde. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock, making sure there are no lumps. Add the bay leaf, Tabasco, and Worcestershire. Let the soup simmer for 15 min.

Reduce the heat and add the chicken and the noodle packets** Simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve.

*These 3 ingredients sound unusual in a soup - but my hubs puts Tabasco sauce in most soups to add kick. A few weeks ago - I tried it too (only not nearly the amount he uses) and it really adds a depth of flavor when used in moderation - and doesn't add heat. The Wsauce does the same thing - it tastes like you've been slaving over the stove all day. The dill. Dill. I saw it on recipe I read and thought to myself - how weird. So, I didn't add it to the pot - but added a pinch to my bowl to try it out. I really liked it - and so did the 2 daughters that tried it too. So, if you are hesitant about these ingredients, don't be. Add the T & W and try the dill in a small bowl - then decide for yourself!!

**Most of the seasoning is in the bottom of the packet so dump the first one in - then pinch off the bottom third of the second packet - allowing lots of noodles out - but not as much seasoning.


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