Healthy vegetables create a hearty chicken gnocchi soup with tons a flavor, punched with a little bacon and spices. Weeknight easy!
The first official crazy shopping weekend of the holiday season is officially behind us. Know what I did?
Except for a few trips to the grocery store — always safe from Black Friday crowds — I hunkered down in my home as though the White Death itself were barreling down I-75, threatening to cover the world in a blanket of winter puff.
I’m not so much with the crowds these days. The last Black Friday I participated in, not only did I come home with no packages, but also with fewer clothes on my person than when I left the house (true story). All of which goes against the general goals of Black Friday, I think. Part me from my money, yes. Part me from layers of my personal, poly-cotton-fiber-blend exoskeleton, probably not.
But, no complaints here, with all the hiding. I love these little planned exiles. I cooked. I worked on freelance projects. I watched some Dexter and Walking Dead reruns (the holiday spirit abounds. 🙂 ).
I ate in the living room in front of the TV. I didn’t use coasters.
Pajamas were the uniform (although my pajamas are yoga-ish leggings and a super snuggly thick long-sleeved Henley). I briefly considered going all twenty-something and wearing my jammies to Kroger, but I have neither Uggs nor long hair to wrap into a sloppy up-do. Both essential for the “look.” (Oh, and actually being twenty-something, which I am not.) All-in-all, it was better for the world that I pulled on jeans first.
And like I said, I cooked. A lot. Super delicious salads and vegetable roasts, which will eventually make their way here to SoupAddict. I know it’s only December 1st, but I’m already starting to crave greens. Big time. I’ve noticed it happens earlier and earlier every year. If you have a heavy-food foodie hangover every January like I do, stay tuned to this blog: I will have the cure.
But in the meantime, there’s lots of Christmas baking to do, and New Year’s party appetizers to plan (New Year’s Eve is fast becoming one of my favorite celebration days — small group of besties; home field advantage; unapologetic booze and appetizers).
Regardless of the month, there’s always soup. As long as there’s any kind of chill in the air, hot and hearty soup will always be tops in my book.
Today’s recipe, vegetable chicken gnocchi soup, is one of those lovely meals where the prep is a light exercise in familiar, repetitive movements, with time to stare off into the middle distance while stirring, deep in thought.
I personally like knife work — chopping vegetables is relaxing to me. If for you, not so much, feel free to use frozen. Three of the five veggies in this recipe came from my freezer (preserved from my garden loot). Frozen veggies sometimes get turned-up noses from the locavores, but they’re often far superior to salt-laden canned vegetables from the store. (Check the labels on your favorite brand and compare it to its frozen twin.) Frozen vegetables are usually flash-frozen very soon after harvest, with no additives or preservatives needed.
If you have leftover cooked chicken (as I did) — or even turkey! — toss it in. The gnocchi and vegetables create a filling soup on their own, but your carnivore peeps will like the added hit of protein.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 slices bacon chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped onion about 1/2 of a medium
- 1/3 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped butternut squash
- 1/4 cup chopped broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup chopped red bell peppers
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- big pinch black pepper
- 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound gnocchi if using frozen, let them thaw first
- 3 cups cooked chicken shredded
- 1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon minced tarragon
Heat oil in a 4 to 5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium until shimmering, then add the bacon. Cook until the fat begins to render and the meaty parts turn golden. Add the onions, celery, and butternut squash, and cook until the onions are translucent and the edges of the squash turn golden. Stir in the broccoli, peppers, and garlic, and continuing heating the vegetables until they're cooked through.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine, mixing well with the vegetables and bacon. Sprinkle the flour, paprika, salt, and black pepper over the vegetables and stir to coat. Add the chicken broth and bring the soup to a light boil. Reduce heat enough to maintain an active simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the gnocchi, increasing heat, if necessary to maintain a simmer. After 5 minutes, reduce heat to low and add the chicken, dairy, cheese, and tarragon, stirring well. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. When the chicken has reheated, ladle into bowls and serve.