Made with creamy white beans instead of chicken and fresh spinach, this gnocchi soup recipe is quickly becoming a favorite among my friends and family. This soup is ready in record time (15 minutes to be exact!) making it perfect for cozy weeknights. Readers have also had great luck with making this soup vegan and gluten free too!
Olive Garden was a beacon of our childhood family outings. The endless breadsticks, the family style salads, the soups – I loved it. So I thought I’d recreate one of my favorites from there.
That’s where this gnocchi soup comes in. I had developed a few creamy bean recipes like creamy Chickpea Soup and Marry Me Chickpeas and they were both hits. I knew adapting my bases to making gnocchi soup would be an easy transition, and that white beans were the perfect replacement for chicken so I set out to make gnocchi soup just like Olive Gardens minus the chicken!
This soup works because it uses a powerful flavor base, simple seasonings that pack a punch, and white beans that don’t have to cook as long as chicken (and are much cheaper). So grab some gnocchi and let me show you how to make my new favorite soup!
Why you’ll love it
- Make it fast thanks to white beans and gnocchi, both of which don’t have to cook very long and cook much faster than chicken!
- Simple ingredients like half-and-half, Italian seasoning, and spinach bring tons of flavor and you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry or fridge!
- One pot is used to make this vegetarian gnocchi soup. This saves time and energy pulling out different dishes and cleaning multiple pots!
“Probably the best soup I’ve ever had. And it somehow tasted even better the next day! 12/10, will make again.” —Kayla
Ingredients for Gnocchi Soup
Gnocchi soup is so easy and delicious thanks to a handful of pantry staple ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Mirepoix: This is a combination of onions, celery, and carrots that is traditional in French cooking. While the carrots add sweetness, we use yellow onions here for just a touch more sweetness.
- Butter: Any kind of butter will work or you can use olive oil.
- Garlic: Mincing fresh garlic is the best way to get the most flavor per clove. If you do use pre-minced garlic I typically add about 20% more garlic to make up for the loss of flavor that is typical of pre-minced garlic stored in the fridge.
- Spices: You will need Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper flakes to make this soup extra delicious! I always like a little kick in my soups, so adding the red pepper flakes is one of the many reasons this soup is extra tasty!
- Flour: Gnocchi soup traditionally has a thicker broth. This can be done with corn starch, cheese, or flour. I use flour because it’s a staple in any household and doesn’t change the flavor profile at all.
- Vegetable broth: You can make your own vegetable broth or use store-bought. Really either is a fine option. And if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, bone broth is a great option too.
- White beans: These are my go-to beans for soups, especially Italian-style soups. They are creamy and mild in flavor, yet hearty enough to take the place of chicken or other protein. There are many varieties of white beans including navy beans, cannellini beans, and “great northern” beans. Cannellini beans are preferred for this soup and they are usually found in a can next to any other beans or canned vegetables.
- Spinach: Roughly chop your spinach to make it bite size. If you use baby spinach, you can probably get away with not chopping it. Kale would also be good in this soup.
- Gnocchi: Shelf-stable potato gnocchi in either full size or mini can be used for this soup. I do not recommend frozen gnocchi, cauliflower gnocchi, or any other vegetable gnocchi because it will release too much moisture as it cooks making it mushy.
- Half-and-half: Heavy cream will work here too and some readers have had success using vegan cream and coconut cream as well.
I use half-and-half or heavy cream because the higher the fat content, the less likely the cream is to curdle. The other trick is to ensure your soup is not fully boiling when the cream is added. This is why it’s important to remove the soup from the heat and then slowly stir in the cream to fully incorporate it.
How to make Vegetarian Gnocchi Soup
Making this soup couldn’t be simpler! The key to success for any recipe is to make sure everything is diced and portioned out before you start the soup and to give this brief overview of the recipe a read through first.
- Make the flavor base by sauteing the vegetables and spices in a little butter.
- Turn it into soup by adding the broth, beans, gnocchi, and spinach.
- Make it creamy by removing it from the heat and stiring in the half and half. Serve with a side of cozy garlic bread!
This soup stores well in the fridge or freezer. Store it for up to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container. To reheat, use the microwave or slowly reheat on the stove while stiring.
The soup will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. Just let it thaw before reheating.
Recipe Testing Notes
Through testing, I’ve learned somethings about this soup – what works and what doesn’t. So here’s why this recipe will work perfectly for you!
- Remove the soup from the heat before adding the cream. This ensures the cream won’t curdle in the super hot liquid.
- Shelf-stable gnocchi keeps the soup from becoming mushy, whereas frozen gnocchi can release too much liquid.
- Cooking the gnocchi in the broth adds more flavor than cooking the gnocchi separately in water and saves on cleaning. Just one pot!
Can I make vegan gnocchi soup?
Yes, if you use a vegan heavy cream like from Trader Joe’s or Silk brand, and olive oil or vegan butter in place of regular butter, this soup will be vegan.
Can this soup be gluten-free?
Yes, use a gluten-free gnocchi and a 1:1 gluten free flour. For the gnocchi, look for a shelf-stable one labeled as gluten-free, not a frozen vegetable based gnocchi.
Can this soup be made ahead of time?
Yes, you can make the soup as noted in the directions and the flavors will conitnue to enhance the longer the soup sits. Just keep in mind that gnocchi absorbs liquid so you might need to add more broth to thin the broth out again.
What To Serve with soup
This gnocchi soup without chicken is delicious alone or paired with any of these tasty side dishes!
- Vegan Garlic Bread is easy to make and is perfect for dipping into your soup.
- Vegetable Baked Ziti is another vegetarian take on a classic Italian dish. It’s creamy, delicious, and perfect for serving a crowd.
- Quinoa Kale Salad is a cool and refreshing complement to this cozy and hearty soup.
“This soup is so delicious! I can’t get over how easy it was to make. It’ll definitely be joining my regular soup rotation!” —Jenny
P.S. love creamy gnocchi dishes? Try this Marry Me Gnocchi next! It has a proposal-worthy creamy Tuscan sauce and is ready in under 30 minutes.
- 2 Tbsp butter or oil 28 g
- 1 cup diced onion white or yellow, about 1 medium onion
- ½ cup diced carrots about 2 carrots
- ½ cup diced celery about 2 ribs celery
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup flour 25 g
- 4 cups vegetable broth 1 L
- 1 15-oz can white beans drained
- 4 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped
- 16 oz gnocchi 453 g
- 2 cups half-and-half 473 mL
- Flavor Base: Heat 2 Tbsp butter or oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 cup diced onion, ½ cup diced carrots, and ½ cup diced celery, cooking until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cloves garlic, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, continuing to cook for a minute. Stir in ¼ cup flour.
- Make It Soup: While stirring, add 4 cups vegetable broth and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes to thicken the soup. Stir in 1 15-oz can white beans, 4 cups fresh spinach, and 16 oz gnocchi, cooking just until gnocchi is tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Serve: Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups half-and-half. Serve warm!