Meatless Monday: Gnocchi and Spinach Soup

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As the pall of autumn casts itself upon us, Meatless Monday will likely incorporate more dishes like this offering. Soup seems to be a rather easy meatless option for us here at Al Dente HQ. It was a staple food in both The Wife and my house as children. I’ve talked about my family’s attachment to escarole soup in the past. The Wife and I were both raised on the little pearl pasta known as acini di pepe, or pastina.

Frankly, there’s no better smell in a house than the combination of celery, onion, bay leaf and chicken (or beef) broth bubbling away on a stovetop.

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I wanted something a little off the beaten path for Meatless Monday, so I vegetarianized this recipe from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. There are few soups that cannot be flipped to meat-free. For instance, clam chowder would be tough without clams, as would chicken noodle. In this case, the sausage took a hike and the chicken stock gave way to the vegetable variety.

WHAT WORKED: Gnocchi. They don’t take long to cook and the potato starch does wonders for thickening things. I like frozen, but shelf-stable will work. The parmesan crips I made added a nice little flavor to them.

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WHAT DIDN’T: I could probably do without the half-and-half. It added a nice creaminess, but it wasn’t essential.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: She gave it her seal of approval.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: I would think so. I think I might want to try it with sausage but no cream. Oooh. Maybe some chorizo would give it a nice kick.

Gnocchi and Spinach Soup
Inspired by the original at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

  • 2 small or 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 roasted red pepper hull, patted dry and diced
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed between fingers
  • 32 ounces vegetable stock
  • 16 oz. potato gnocchi, frozen or shelf-stable
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup half & half at room temperature
  • parmesan cheese or parmesan crisps

Add olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. When it shimmers, at the onion and red pepper. Saute until the onions have softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the garlic. Cook until fragrant.

Add the basil and stock, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 20 minutes.

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Wilt the spinach in the pan, then add the gnocchi. The pasta will not take long to cook (2 to 3 minutes, tops). Add the half and half, and return the soup to a simmer. Cook 3 to 4 more minutes.

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Serve immediately with grated parmesan cheese or parmesan crisps.

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