Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup Recipe

by Shelley · May contain affiliate links


{Easy, Lightened-Up Olive Garden “Copycat”}

~ This deliciously comforting Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup recipe draws on all the yummy vibes of the popular Olive Garden classic. It’s so quick and easy to whip up at home (in under 30 minutes)! And, it leverages one of our favorite strategies to slash unwanted fat and calories, without compromising flavor! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Includes Make-Ahead Steps  

Overhead of a white bowl with creamy colored rim on cream napkin, with spoon above and fresh thyme sprigs at corner.

Love that rich, creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup you order at Olive Garden? Mmmmmm … of course you do!

Wishing you could make it at home (easily!) … and maybe even find a way to make it less of a full-fat, guilty indulgence??

I’ve got ya!

You’re really gonna adore this quick, easy homemade version. It’s a runaway hit with my family and friends, every time I make it. And, to be honest, I 100% like it better than what Olive Garden makes (scandalous, but TRUE)!

Why You’ll LOVE This Version of Chicken Gnocchi Soup

It’s got everything you’re looking for in a cozy, comforting bowl of soup:

  • Tender chunks of white meat chicken
  • Pillowy gnocchi
  • Pops of color and flavor from bits of onion, garlic, celery, shredded carrots, and chopped spinach, plus an extra flavor boost from savory thyme leaves
  • All floating in a rich, creamy, slurp-able soup that is so addictively delicious you will absolutely crave this recipe (I can vouch for the crave-ability here – I’m completely addicted!)

Even better yet? It’s such an EASY soup. It’s ready in under 30 minutes, which is a very good thing when a craving strikes on a busy night!

Closeup side view of one bowl of soup with fresh carrots in background and spoon at left.

A Favorite Shortcut

To make this soup even quicker and easier, I usually grab a rotisserie chicken to cut down on cooking time and fuss.

If you hang around my website much, you know that rotisserie chicken is one of my go-to, time-saving strategies when I’m in a hurry (which, let’s be honest, is most of the time)!

Psssst … Take a peek at our entire collection of shortcut Rotisserie Chicken Recipes! And be sure not to miss our Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup, our Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip, or our Quick Rotisserie Chicken Tacos. Mmmmm … too good to miss, and so very easy (thanks, rotisserie chicken!).

For even more shortcuts on this recipe, check your grocery store’s produce section or possibly even the salad bar area. They often stock containers of pre-chopped veggies, minced garlic, and shredded carrots. That’s a great way to cut the prep time for this soup to practically ZERO.

Lickety-split … the whole fabulous pot of creamy, chicken-y, gnocchi joy cooks up really quickly!

It’s perfectly simple … perfectly yummy … perfectly perfect.

Overhead of left half of pot full of finished soup, on wooden board with spoon dipping in to help show texture of chunks of chicken and gnocchi.

But just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – it does …

How This Creamy Soup is {Secretly} Less Full of CREAM!

I’ve leveraged one of my favorite health-ification tricks to lighten up the Olive Garden version of Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup. (But don’t worry … you’ll still love, love, love it!)

The Dilemma …

Sadly, whether you order it up at Olive Garden, or check out most of the other online “copycat” recipes in a quest to recreate Chicken and Gnocchi Soup at home, you’re gonna run into the same dilemma: creamy, fat-loaded, unwanted calories.

Some versions I’ve seen use as much as 1/4 cup of butter, plus a cup or two of heavy cream.


That’s a lot of saturated fat, cholesterol and calories, which don’t really HAVE to be in there, if you know a great trick or two.

Some recipes will kick the cream down a notch by leaning into half-and-half. The two versions that I used as my starting point for my own recipe (the Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup recipe from Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb and the Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) from Alyssa at The Recipe Critic) were among the lighter versions I could find. But both of those “inspiration recipes” still used 2 cups of half-and-half, and one of them still had a hefty dollop of butter in there, too.

I knew I could do better!

I wanted a soup I could feel terrific eating OFTEN (because … ahem … those cravings I mentioned!), as well as serving to people whose health and well-being I care about. And of course, I knew you guys all wanted the exact same things.

Bowl of soup on creamy napkin with spoon , plate of bread and carrot on cutting board in background.

The Simple Solution …

I did what I usually do in a creamy-dilemma situation: I grabbed a can of nonfat evaporated milk!

It’s one of my favorite pro tips for making cream-filled comfort food a whole heck of a lot lighter and healthier.

Just as the name suggests, evaporated milk is simply regular ol’ milk that’s gone through an evaporation process. According to Wikipedia, that process removes about 60% of the milk’s water (and also makes it shelf-stable).

For health-minded cooks like you and me, that’s fantastic because – with so much less water – evaporated milk is also creamier, fuller and silkier than regular milk. It just doesn’t have the undesirable extra fat and calories of cream (or even half-and-half)!


This sneaky strategy works like a charm in both sweet recipes like our rich and luxurious 3-Ingredient Chocolate Dip, our decadent 3-Ingredient Fudge, and our Easy Homemade Fudgesicles.

And, it works just as fabulously in savory applications like this Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup, our Family-Favorite Instant Pot Sweet Potato Soup, and our hearty Turkey Rice Soup.

Quick and easy … absolutely delicious … and {secretly} lighter, too! I know you wanna make some, so let’s get to it!

How to Make This Scrumptious Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Ingredient Prep:

One of the many great things about this recipe is that it relies on simple ingredients. Plus, there are lots of ways to cut your prep time, or to prep ahead.

As I mentioned above, I always start with a rotisserie chicken to make this recipe quicker.

And if you’re in a BIG hurry, you can save even more time by purchasing the veggies at your supermarket already chopped, shredded and minced.

Besides the quick chopping, there’s really no other prep needed here. Easy-peasy!

Make-Ahead Steps

To save time at the busy dinner hour, you can easily prep this recipe a day or so in advance (if you don’t buy your ingredients already cut, to begin with, of course). Chop your onions, celery and garlic, and refrigerate them together in the same airtight container, since they’re added to the soup at the same time. Chop your chicken and shred the carrots, and store them in separate containers in the fridge.

Now you’re ready to cook (and dinner will be ready in a jiffy)!

Step #1

Grab a large-ish soup pot or dutch oven and heat a little bit of olive oil over medium heat.

Once the oil is hot, add your onion, celery and garlic, and cook them until they start to soften (which will take about 6 or 7 minutes).

Give your veggies a stir now and then, so they don’t start to get too browned. You want them to begin getting tender, without being seared to a golden-brown (as you can see in the photo on the right above).

Step #2

Overhead of soup pot once chicken broth and creamy milk have been added, with other ingredients at edges waiting to be added.

Next, add your chicken broth and evaporated milk to the pan with your softened veggies.

Ingredient Tip: Getting the Most Creaminess from Your Evaporated Milk

Before you open your can of milk, be sure to follow the directions to SHAKE WELL. Evaporated milk often separates as it sits at the grocery store, and a thick, ultra-creamy layer sometimes forms down at the bottom of the can.

Because we’re using it to create thickness and creamy body, we don’t want to miss out on the best part of all, so don’t leave that extra-creamy layer behind!

If shaking the can before opening doesn’t get your milk all smoothly re-incorporated, use a spoon or rubber scraper to get out every last bit.

Cover your soup pot and increase the heat to high, to bring the soup up to a boil.

Step #3

Overhead of soup pot once chicken and gnocchi, carrots and thyme have been added.

Once your soup is boiling, add the frozen gnocchi, chicken, carrots and thyme.

I like frozen gnocchi best in this soup recipe (better than the shelf-stable kind I’ve bought in the pasta aisle). You can use it straight out of the freezer here – no need to thaw it or pre-cook. (Oooooooh … yet another handy, time-saving shortcut!)

Ingredient Tip: Fresh vs. Dried Thyme

I personally prefer to use fresh thyme, which gives the soup a more delicate and … ummmmmm … fresh flavor. I especially like the alluring smell and immediate flavor pop you get if you garnish each bowl with a little more chopped fresh thyme.

But, my family and taste-testers were honestly divided on this issue. My husband, for example, preferred the more solid, assertive flavor of dried thyme.

I still vote for fresh, but you can use dried if that’s what you happen to have on hand. (Or if you’re on my husband’s side of this debate!)

Continue cooking your soup on high, covered, until the gnocchi are cooked through. The exact timing will depend on your brand of gnocchi, but it should generally take about 6-8 minutes.

Most likely, your soup will come back up to a boil during this time, but it’s completely ok if it doesn’t do that. Just check your gnocchi for doneness and use that as your guide for how long to cook your soup, whether it returns to a boil or not.

Step #4

Overhead of soup pot after the chicken and gnocchi have cooked, with gnocchi floating at the top in the creamy soup base.

Remove that gloriously creamy, I-can’t-wait-to-dig-in soup from the heat. Oh YUM … just look at those pillowy, tender gnocchi!

Then, stir in the spinach, salt and pepper after your soup is off the heat.

Ingredient Tip: Spinach

My family prefers cooked spinach to be just barely wilted, not overcooked and mushy. It’s one of the little secrets I’ve discovered that makes my family like spinach a lot more! So, just like with our Farmers’ Market Italian Sausage-Tortellini Soup and our Crock-Pot Italian Wedding Soup, I stir the fresh spinach in near the end of cooking.

If you like your spinach more cooked, feel free to add it earlier, though.

For an optional, special flourish, sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme across the top … and serve up your soup, all steamy and cozy and wonderful!

How to Serve Your Fabulous Soup

At Olive Garden, of course, the Chicken Gnocchi Soup most often makes an appearance as a starter first course. In the past, I’ve followed suit and served my homemade version as an opener for a special dinner party.

But, with all that tender chicken and the soft, pillowy gnocchi floating happily in your bowl, this hearty soup recipe is really filling enough to be a main course. So, I actually most often serve it as the centerpiece to either lunch or a cozy dinner.

Side view of soup in white and cream ridged bowl on matching plate, surrounded by grainy bread slices and a second bowl of soup.

It’s wonderful with some whole-grain, crusty bread to mop up every last drop of the creamy broth!

And, you can easily round out the whole meal with a green garden salad, or you could try our delightful Grape Salad for a sweet, juicy counterpoint.

FAQs At-a-Glance

Can I Adjust How Thick or Thin This Soup Is?

Sure! We like this soup pretty thick, but if you would like yours to be a little thinner, simply add a bit of additional broth (from a second can), up to maybe about half of an additional can. Taste the soup after you add the extra broth (especially if you add quite a bit), and adjust the seasonings by adding just a bit more salt and/or thyme to get the flavors poppin’ again.

Can I Double This Recipe?

Absolutely! I’ve doubled it for a larger dinner party before, and it works like a charm!

Does Chicken Gnocchi Soup Reheat Well?

It’s really at its very best served fresh, right off the stove. But, I’ve tested reheating it (in case you happen to have leftovers), and it works fairly well. Note, though, that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits, and the gnocchi will tend to be somewhat softer. So, after a day or two in the fridge, you’ll definitely want to add some additional broth to get it back to a “soupy” consistency again. As I mentioned above, add a pinch more salt or thyme if you need to, in order to ratchet the flavors back up after you’ve thinned the soup out with the extra broth.

Can You Freeze Chicken Gnocchi Soup?

In our testing, we found that, while you technically can freeze it, the soup just isn’t nearly as good reheated later. The flavors are still there, but the creamy texture is lost. For the best results, I definitely recommend starting fresh each time you make this.

Do I Have to Use Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth?

As I explain in the article Why Use Low-Sodium Broth Instead of “Regular”?, this is all about control. Starting with a lower-sodium broth allows cooks to adjust the seasoning at the end of cooking, while still keeping a recipe’s overall sodium levels in check. Often, a final hit of salt (or a bit of salt added in steps along the way) really makes the flavors of a recipe shine, even more than the same amount of salt would, if added all at once as a component of the broth. If you only have “regular” broth on hand for this recipe, you’ll need to reduce the amount of salt called for at the end of cooking. When doing this, be sure to taste the soup … and then add just a little salt at a time, tasting as you go, so you don’t end up over-salting.

What Are Gnocchi?

Gnocchi are basically a type of potato dumpling made from flour, potatoes and eggs (although as Allrecipes explains, you’ll sometimes see things like ricotta or spinach added). There’s a bit of debate surrounding whether potato gnocchi are technically a pasta, since they’re generally cooked and treated like a pasta … or whether they’re a small dumpling. Regardless, you can generally find gnocchi in bags in the freezer section, in boxes in the dried pasta aisle, and sometimes even in the refrigerated, fresh section of your grocery store (and you can, of course, even make your own gnocchi). For this copycat Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup, I liked the performance of frozen, store-bought varieties – with the benefit that you don’t even have to thaw your gnocchi before tossing it in the soup pot!

Can I Shred the Chicken Instead of Cubing It?

You bet! I feel like the juicy chicken is more similar to Olive Garden’s soups if it’s chopped or cubed into tender chunks of chicken, rather than shredded … but you can definitely go either way here, if you personally prefer shredded chicken. And, although I love the time-savings of grabbing a rotisserie chicken for this recipe, you can certainly cook your own boneless, skinless chicken breasts from scratch. Lastly, don’t worry if you’re using up a leftover rotisserie chicken and need to use some of the chicken thighs along with the breast meat. That’ll work just fine, too.

Even Better Than Olive Garden’s? {Surprise!}

So, what we’ve got here is an Olive Garden copycat Chicken Gnocchi Soup that’s kind of not a strict “copycat” at all!

It’s super fast (hurray for rotisserie chicken) and easy to make at home, and so much lighter and healthier, too!

And honestly, I think this version tastes a whole heck of a lot better! (Surprised?? I was!)

I hadn’t had Olive Garden’s Chicken Gnocchi soup for years and years. But after I’d perfected my own version of it, I thought, “Gosh … I really should stop into an Olive Garden restaurant and try their famous soup (the actual, “real thing”) again, just to see what it’s like.”

I was so ridiculously disappointed by what my kindly waiter served up. In my tasting notes, I described Olive Garden’s soup as being super salty, yet also really one-note and flat in flavor. Definitely not complex, and really not all that yummy. It was also “unhappily thick” – to the point of being unappetizingly gluggy and almost more like gravy than a soup.

Surprising … and sad! (Especially considering all the extra fat and calories I was slurping on during my unhappy taste test.)

Maybe it was just a bad day in the Olive Garden kitchen. Who knows?

What I do know is that I absolutely C-R-A-V-E my version. And I feel a thousand times better about digging into that steaming, homemade bowlful, knowing that it’s so much lighter and leaner and better for me, too!

Flatlay closeup of bowl of soup with chicken and gnocchi visible in creamy base, spoon at left side and bread in background.

Whip up a quick batch for your own family today.

I just bet you’ll love it … and you’ll never bother ordering it at the restaurant again!

Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?


Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!

Overhead of a white bowl with creamy colored rim on cream napkin, with spoon above and fresh thyme sprigs at corner.

Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Yield: 7 cups
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes

{Easy, Lightened-Up Olive Garden "Copycat"}

This delicious, cozy soup is so easy to whip up at home ... in under 30 minutes! Bonus: it's cleverly lighter and leaner (but still every bit as yummy as the original)!

  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Includes Make-Ahead Steps  


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth (see note)
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated fat free milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk; see note)
  • 16 ounces gnocchi (we prefer frozen; no need to thaw)
  • 2 cups diced, cooked chicken breasts (we use rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (from about 1 large carrot; we use the large holes on a box grater)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme; see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • optional for garnish: additional chopped fresh thyme or thyme sprigs


  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Cook onion, celery, and garlic until starting to soften but not too browned, stirring occasionally, about 6-7 minutes.
  2. Add broth and milk (making sure to include any creamy solids at the bottom of the milk can). Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Once the soup is boiling, add gnocchi, chicken, carrots, and thyme. Cook on high, covered, until gnocchi are cooked through, about 6-8 minutes depending on your brand of gnocchi. (The soup will likely return to a boil during this time, although it's fine if it doesn't.)
  4. Remove soup from heat and stir in spinach, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with a few extra thyme leaves or sprigs, if desired.


Chicken broth: We like this soup fairly thick, but if you prefer yours thinner, you can add a little additional broth from a second can. You will also most likely want to thin the soup with a bit more broth when reheating any leftovers, as it thickens the longer it sits. After adding extra broth, be sure to taste and re-season your soup with a bit more salt or thyme, if needed.

Evaporated milk: Before opening, be sure to follow the can's directions to SHAKE WELL. Evaporated milk often separates, with a thick layer forming at the bottom of the can. Since we’re using it to create thickness and creamy body in place of full-fat cream, we want that silky layer – don’t leave it behind! If shaking the can before opening doesn’t get all those solids incorporated back in, use a spoon or rubber scraper to get out every last bit.

Fresh vs. dried thyme: My taste-testers were divided on which they preferred, fresh or dried. I personally prefer to use fresh, which gives the soup a more delicate, fresh flavor. I especially like the enticing scent and immediate flavor pop you get if you garnish each bowl with a tiny bit more chopped fresh thyme. However, my husband, for example, preferred the more solid, assertive flavor of dried thyme. Use whichever you prefer or have on hand.

Make-ahead tips: This soup is at its very best served fresh. But, you can easily prep ahead by chopping the onions, celery, and garlic (which can be stored together in one container, since they're added to the soup at the same time), chopping the chicken, and shredding the carrots up to a day in advance. If you do happen to have leftover soup to reheat later, you will probably want to thin it with a little additional broth (as mentioned above).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 7 servings Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 245Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 333mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 19g

Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

Did You Make This Recipe?

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* As mentioned in the post above, when I initially began testing and perfecting my own version of this recipe, I initially drew inspiration from the Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup recipe from Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb and the Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) from Alyssa at The Recipe Critic.

10 thoughts on “Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup Recipe”

  1. Made this soup last night and we loved it. I used mini gnocchi’s that are vacuum sealed on the shelf (Gia Russa) and they worked out great. Bill is not a huge fan of gnocchi, but he was good with the mini ones; he said the recipe is a keeper and I agree!

    • Oh, this makes me so, so happy to hear, Lisa! 😀 Thanks for the specific tip that the Gia Russa minis worked well, too – I tested several different brands (frozen and shelf-stable) but certainly didn’t test them all lol, so it’s super helpful to know which ones work well – other readers will appreciate that tip, too! Thanks for taking the time to offer such wonderful feedback – I truly do appreciate it! ~Shelley

  2. Made the soup for dinner this evening! It’s sooo delicious. I think I’ll use a 12 oz bag of gnocchi next time. Great recipe.

    • Oh Sue, this make me so happy – I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! You’re always so great about offering feedback when you make our recipes, and I truly appreciate it! And for sure – if you’d like a less gnocchi-prominent version, 12 ounces will work great, too. Thanks again!! 😀 ~Shelley

  3. Can you provide nutritional info for this soup? Would appreciate. thanks for your time and assistance. (wondering if this info could be provided for all of your recipes including sodium)

    • Sure thing, Pat! All of our recipes (including this Chicken Gnocchi Soup) have nutritional info included. You can find it in the light green area at the bottom of each recipe card. If you’re still having trouble finding it, let me know. Hope you adore this soup as much as my family does! Have a terrific evening! ~Shelley


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