Is it soup weather where you are? It’s definitely soup weather here in London. Now that the holidays are over and London has de-glittered itself from the magic that is British Christmas, all that we’re left with is gray, drizzly weather. It’s so gray and drizzly, in fact, that the other day the sun came out and I actually looked at the clock first, totally confused as to what time of day it was. It’s just sun!
Soup weather for my family means that chicken soup inevitably finds its way into the rotation. Even more popular is this chicken soup with homemade gnocchi, which is much easier than it sounds.
The thing about making gnocchi is this — you just need to be okay with a Big Mess, especially with your kids elbow deep in said Big Mess. I won’t lie to you — the idea of flour and cooked potato and children with their small hands working clouds of flour and potato into every crevice of my kitchen causes me much internal stress. I try to mitigate the incoming gluten and starch tornado by prepping ingredients well in advance and just accepting, with my eyes closed and a heavy sigh, that I will need to invest some precious post-bedtime “me” time to cleanup. Also, I have one of these handy dough scrapers, which makes the cleanup much easier to bear.
And here’s the thing, really — making gnocchi is a beautiful art. It’s not hard, based on a gnocchi recipe I used from Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook, 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food. The recipe calls for just floury potatoes and flour, and I let the kids roll out the dough into long snakes. My dough scraper cuts the gnocchi into nice, even pieces, and I’ve taught the kids how to gently roll a fork over the surface to create pretty grooves in each little pillow.
For ultimate ease of preparation, I make the chicken soup well in advance. There’s no raw chicken carcass being thrown into a hot pot of boiling water — no, it’s much easier than that. I use store-bought chicken stock (2 giant containers, to be exact). After sautéing some celery, onion and carrots until they’re soft and shimmery, I pour my containers of chicken stock on top and let the whole thing come to a boil, then lower to a simmer to let the flavors meld together. On the particular night I made this chicken soup, I had some broccolini on hand, so I threw that in too. My kids love broccolini. They’re weird like that.
Once the gnocchi are all made, it’s just a matter of quickly boiling them in salted water, then divvying them up into bowls for serving. I ladle the chicken soup on top and garnish with fresh basil. Then, as I’m balancing bowls of hot soup in both hands, I take a deep breath, close my eyes and walk right past the crusty flour drying on my counters and the lumps of potato clogging my kitchen sink. I don’t look back. It’s too traumatic.
At least, in times of trauma, there’s always chicken soup.
With homemade gnocchi.
- 2 32-ounce cartons of chicken stock (UK cooks -- use 4 500g containers to approximate the same amount)
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- ¾ pound (400 grams) potato
- ¼ cup (50 g) flour
- optional: 2 cups broccolini, rinsed and chopped
- optional: 1 cup dry white wine
- optional: 1 bunch of fresh basil, cut into thin strips
- Note: if you have an Instant Pot this recipe is ideal for it. Saute the carrots, onions and celery in olive oil and then add the herbs, stock and wine (if using), then switch your Instant Pot to the "soup" function and let 'er rip. Otherwise, follow the directions in the next step to make the soup.
- Make the soup: in a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat until the olive oil is just shimmering. Add the onions first, sauteing gently until the onions are starting to turn translucent. Add the celery and carrots and continue cooking for 6-8 minutes, until the veggies are soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.
- If you're using the wine, pour that in first and stir with the veggies, letting the wine cook down to about half its original volume (you can monitor it by taking note of the wine level when you first poured it into the pot, and watching it as wine evaporates and the level goes down). Add the stock, bay leaf, oregano and thyme and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and let the soup simmer for 25-30 minutes.If you're using the broccolini for your soup, add the broccolini and let it simmer for the last 5-10 minutes of your soup simmering time.
- Make the gnocchi: While the soup simmers, wash and peel the potatoes, then chop into 1-inch (3cm) chunks. Put the chunks into a medium-sized pot and add water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Salt the water generously, cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until they're good and tender, about 10-12 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and set the colander over the hot pot you just used. Return the pot to the hot stove (even though it's off) and let the potatoes steam dry in the colander for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the potatoes into the pan and mash well, seasoning with salt and pepper. Fill the pan again with cold water, salt the water, and bring the pot to a boil.
- While you're waiting for the water to boil, flour a clean work surface and pour the mashed potato on to it. Sprinkle the flour over the potato and scrunch everything together to make it stick. Roll out the dough into a long snake, and then, using a sharp knife, cut the snake into 1.5 inch segments. Lightly roll a fork over each segment to make a little grooved pattern on top. Assemble your gnocchi onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Once the water is boiling in your pot, add the gnocchi and let boil for one minute -- you'll see the gnocchi go from soft little pillows into tight little wads of potato. Fish them out with a strainer and divide them into 4 bowls for serving.
- Ladle the chicken soup on top of the gnocchi and garnish with basil. Serve immediately.