Italian Vegetable and Gnocchi Soup | Vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free
Let’s be honest: for many of us, cooking at home requires a complete lifestyle change. Alex and I like to talk about how simple cooking at home is — and it is, truly. A few basic skills like chopping an onion and mincing garlic can go a long way. But for those of us who didn’t grow up cooking (like me!), the hardest part is the lifestyle change — the realization that nourishing food doesn’t just jump onto your plate. You have to get it there. You have to make the time to find it, store it, and cook it. You have to get creative with recipes and find out what tastes good to you and your family. You, and only you, must make the time to orient your life around cooking fresh food.
Alex and I learned this the hard way, with years of over-processed and under-delicious foods. We’ve done the fast food Chalupa thing, the frozen cheesy pocket pastry thing, and the cereal for dinner thing. So you might be surprised to see me now, making this soup.
It’s become so familiar, the act of making soup; almost like a dance. Dicing the onion and mincing the garlic now takes me minutes, an activity which once would have taken me half the night (plus I would have avoided it altogether because really, who wants to wash a cutting board and knife?). Sautéing the onion, then throwing in the garlic and fresh basil for just a moment fills the kitchen with a smell reminiscent of an Italian pizza kitchen. The pot sizzles when I pour in the broth and add the tomatoes and veggies, and then it cheerfully bubbles at simmer until it smells too good not to taste, when I stir in the spinach and it turns a lovely, bright green color. And the flavor? Homey, comforting, and heart-meltingly good. It’s taken years, but this is what keeps us going. The fact that in just over 30 minutes we can create something that nourishes our bodies, satisfies our palates, and brings us closer to the people we love is ultimately one of the more rewarding things I’ve ever learned.
We created this soup recipe, which is our trick for the most delicious way to eat loads of fresh, nutritious veggies, for Sub-Zero and their Fresh Food Matters initiative. It’s a movement that we wish we thought of ourselves, because it is so much of the heart behind what we do, too. I love this quote from Sub-Zero: “We believe that fresh food can make a positive difference in your life. Fresh Food Matters is about inspiring people to think about their own relationship with fresh food and learn how they can incorporate it into every day.” Fist bump to that!
Even better, Sub-Zero is partnering with Katie Stagliano of Katie’s Krops, a 17-year-old who started a non-profit to end hunger by growing fresh food. We chatted with her a few days ago, and this girl is amazing! If you share on social media why Fresh Food Matters in your own life using the hasthag #FreshFoodMatters between now and the end of July, Sub-Zero will donate $5 for every hashtag to Katie’s Krops, up to $25,000. That’s enough to start 25 more gardens growing fresh food for those who otherwise don’t have access to it! Which is pretty sweet, if you ask us. Will you join us and share?
Wondering why we happened to chat with Katie? We’ll be speaking with Katie on the next installment of the A Couple Cooks podcast, to release May 10! Stay tuned. More about the Fresh Food Matters campaign is at FreshFoodMatters.com, including interviews with 13 notable experts who share the impact food has in their lives, in addition to some practical tips for how to purchase and store fresh food from season to season.
Notes: This soup is naturally so flavorful you can stay vegan / dairy-free by choosing to omit Parmesan cheese, and it still tastes great! The soup can be made in about 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for an easy weeknight meal.Print
*Note: Use fire roasted tomatoes if at all possible; avoid “no salt added” varieties. With the fresh basil, the soup is very flavorful and doesn’t require the addition of cheese, but feel free to add if desired.
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ cup chopped basil leaves, plus additional for serving if desired
- 15-ounce can chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pinches red pepper flakes
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 28-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes*
- 15-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups frozen (or fresh) cut green beans
- 1 pound gnocchi
- 4 to 6 cups spinach leaves
- Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)*
- Chop the onion and mince the garlic cloves. Chop ½ cup basil; if you have more, slice it thinly and reserve for a garnish. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and basil for 1 minute. Add the chickpeas, red pepper flakes, broth, tomatoes and their juices, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the green beans, then simmer for 15 minutes.
- Break apart any clumps in the gnocchi, then add them to the pot and cook for 5 minutes until tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted, about 1 minute.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowl and top with Parmesan and basil leaves if desired. Allow to cool slightly before diving in!