Once upon a time,
I was a young, bright-eyed college student who worked as a server at The Olive Garden.
I'm mostly kidding, of course. I think it's a great company, and I love going to The Olive Garden to this day whenever I'm in the mood to enjoy a 10,000 calorie meal surrounded by random Italian-esque architecture. (Both of which, I happen to always be in the mood for.)
I, however, am not kidding about how ridiculous it is to serve at any restaurant that has unlimited ANYTHING, let alone unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks. Seriously, don't do it. This is your conscience speaking and I'm telling you: Don't go in there and get seduced by that heavenly smell of buttery breadsticks or the idea of wearing a tie as part of your uniform, which you find kind of fun and sexy, in a 1920's gangster sort of way. Stop it. Turn around and go apply at Buffalo Wild Wings, so you can wear a fake football jersey to work like the dignified person you are. You're welcome.
Anyway! I happened to be working there when they first introduced their now iconic Chicken and Gnocchi Soup. I remember being at the staff meeting where we all got to taste it and get coached on how to say 'Gnocchi' correctly, so that we wouldn't make any embarrassing pronunciation blunders that would give the impression that this establishment wasn't 100% AUTHENTIC ITALIAN.
Even though I laughed while writing that just now, the good people at OG did actually do their homework and we were correctly taught that the true pronunciation is, in fact: 'Nyow-kee'.
I'll spare you the ugly details of an argument I got into with another student in Cosmetology school who absolutely insisted that it's pronounced 'NAW-CHEE' and that there was no way she was wrong because her "mOm iS iTaLiAn!" And this was before the days when cell phones held the almighty powers of Siri to have your back during these moments, so I eventually just gave up after realizing that I could be Clarence Darrow and still lose an argument to anyone who pulls out the Italian Mother card, because truth and accuracy become entirely relative after that. (See what I did there?)
That whole discussion still kind of haunts me, but it quickly became a favorite inside joke between me and my Dad, so we'll randomly say "Uhhh, it's called Naw-Chee. My Mom's Italian." in the middle of a conversation and that always makes me feel a little better.
Alright, I realize that was more of a complex tapestry of long-winded rants than you usually want to hear about soup, but I appreciate you letting me get it all off my chest.
Chicken and Gnocchi is delightful. It's creamy and flavorful and wonderfully satisfying on a cold day.
You can use homemade or store bought gnocchi. You can use cooked chicken breast or rotisserie chicken or even leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. You can chop carrots or use pre-shredded ones sold in a bag. You can add in the celery or leave it out if you think celery tastes like wet, crunchy soap. Basically, you can be a snobby purist or a convenience-driven cheater, because it doesn't matter. Just follow your heart.
All that matters is how Gnocchi is pronounced. I don't care where your mom is from.
Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
3 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1 16oz. package of Gnocchi
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken stock
1.5 cups half and half
3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper
-Sauté butter, onion, garlic, carrots and celery for a couple minutes until soft.
-Add flour, cooking and whisking for a couple more minutes.
-Gradually add chicken broth, one cup at a time, whisking constantly.
-Gradually add half and half, heat to simmer.
-Add chicken and gnocchi (already cooked, according to package directions) Simmer on low for 10-20 minutes.
-Stir in the spinach and a handful of grated parmesan, and then salt and pepper to taste.
-Ladle into bowls and add more parm, because it's the right thing to do.