creamy chicken gnocchi soup (olive garden copycat)

Jessica Penner, RDRecipes, Soup40 Comments

olive garden chicken gnocchi soup

Save money and eat healthier by making a copycat version of the Olive Garden creamy chicken gnocchi soup!

Over the past month our family has taken a couple mini-vacays that have involved sleeping at hotels. In August we went with my parents and my sister’s family to Fargo, ND and stayed at a hotel with a great waterpark. The next little trip was a work trip! I signed up to Pinch of Yum‘s food photography workshop in Minneapolis, MN. As a side note, I highly recommend Pinch of Yum’s photography and blogging resources!

On our last night there, our toddler slept wonderfully. We put him to bed and he didn’t wake up until the morning. This NEVER happens at in his crib at home, or when camping, or at a cabin. Just in a hotel. Let me clarify that further. Just in a hotel where he has his own queen size bed. The first couple of nights in Minneapolis we were in a hotel room with just one queen sized bed. No one slept well those nights! The 2 year old was actually evicted at one point, and spent part of the night sleeping on a pillow on the floor! But on our last night, we splurged for a nicer hotel with a really cool waterpark, and two queen beds. We all slept wonderfully.

We’re now seriously debating whether to fill his tiny bedroom with a queen-sized bed. The things you do to get sleep as a parent.

But to the recipe! Soup season is OFFICIALLY here! If I had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be soup. I just can’t get enough of the stuff.

why this olive garden creamy chicken gnocchi soup is a smart choice

This recipe uses evaporated milk to add creaminess…. Full fat evaporated milk has a 7.8% milk fat content. Compare that to half and half, which is 10%. Full on whipping cream (heavy cream) has 35%. Therefore, fat content wise, the evaporated milk is similar to half and half. But since evaporated milk is literally milk that has about half of the water content removed, it retains all the other components of milk such as protein.

½ cup Whipping Cream Half and Half Evaporated Milk 2% Evaporated Milk
Cal 413 151 178 122
Fat 44 13 10 2.5
Carbs 7 5.5 13 15
Sugar 0.5 0.2 13 13
Protein 5 4 9 10


olive garden chicken gnocchi soup

If you give this recipe a go, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or snap a photo and tag it with #smartnutritionrecipes on Instagram!  I’d love to see your creations! Knowing someone has enjoyed one of my recipes always makes my day brighter. 


Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

  • Author: Jessica Penner, RD
  • Yield: 12 servings


Save money and eat healthier by making your favourite restaurant creamy chicken and gnocchi soup at home!


  • 4 slices bacon, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon *see note
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 can (354g) chicken, drained (I recommend Kirkland brand from Costco) or 1 cup leftover cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/2 package frozen spinach (150g)
  • 2 cans (370 ml each) evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 (750g) package gnocchi
  • 1/2 tsp salt *see note


  1. In a large soup pot heat the bacon, onion, carrot, and celery over medium low heat until onion is soft.
  2. Add in the garlic, bouillon, basil, oregano, and thyme. Cook one minute.
  3. Add in the chicken and spinach. Stir occasionally until spinach is defrosted.
  4. Add in the evaporated milk. Refill each can two times with water and add to pot. That’s an additional 4 cans of water (or approximate 1400 ml).
  5. Mix the cornstarch with a few tablespoons of water in a small bowl (or one of the empty cans to save on dishes!). Stir cornstarch/water mixture into the soup.
  6. Turn heat up to medium high and heat to boiling. Stir occasionally.
  7. Once the soup is boiling, add the gnocchi and cook one minute.


  • NOTE ABOUT BOUILLON: 4 cups of chicken broth can be substituted for the bouillon and water used in step 4.
  • NOTE ABOUT SALT: taste the soup at this point for level of saltiness. I found that the soup needed a bit of salt so I added 1/2 a tsp. But when I ate the soup the next day I found it too salty. I think the salt from the gnocchi had leached out. Therefore, if you know you’ll have leftovers, don’t add the salt in. Serve in bowls and allow each person to salt their bowl to taste. The leftovers will probably be salty enough.


Nutrition Info: 245 cals/ 6.5g fat/ 35g carbs/ 2g fibre/ 15.5g sugar/ 10.5g protein

Creamy chicken gnocchi soup


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40 Comments on “creamy chicken gnocchi soup (olive garden copycat)”

    1. Remember that it’s not added sugar. It’s simply sugar that was naturally occurring in the milk. Along with the carbs and fat, you also get protein with the evaporated milk! I like how balanced it is and that it’s simply a whole food in concentrated form 🙂

  1. Can regular milk be substituted for the evaporated milk cans? I need to use lactaid milk due to a milk allergy.

    1. Yes, regular milk can be used but the soup won’t be quite as rich. I would recommend using whole milk or adding additional milk as needed to reach a milky colour and flavour 🙂

    1. Hi Heather,

      I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking but I’ll try to make the options more clear. You can either use 1 tbsp of bouillon (powder, cube, or paste) and 4 cups of water. OR you can add 4 cups of packaged broth, like in a tetra pak.

  2. I have made this soup many times and my family never tires of it! I doubled up on the spinach, and didn’t have gnocchi on hand so used italian sausage tortellini….yummmm! Thanks Jessica, your recipes are amazing, and your photographs do justice to these amazing meals.

    1. Thanks Adi! Glad to know doubling up on spinach works! It’s always nice when you can add extra veggies to a dish!

  3. I am making this for the second time in two weeks. I had not eaten this before but my grand daughter tells me it is better than Olive Garden. I cannot wait to try more of your recipes

    1. Wow! That’s a huge compliment! I am so so happy you enjoy the recipe. It’s certainly one of my favourites 🙂

  4. Bi I’m from Australia so we don’t have an Olive Garden…is that just one restaurant or a chain? Anyhoo I’ve started making a lot of copy cat soups and I’m doing yours tonight as my kids looooove gnocci and spinach and soups lol. I will post a pic and let you know how it went. P.s. did your bubby get the queen bed? I think it’s a fabulous idea you could fill it with all the important stuffed toys and lets face it…it saves you buying any more beds until they move out

    1. Yup, Olive Garden is a chain restaurant in North America! What did you think of the recipe? As for the bed…we actually had someone give us a single bed so he’s been sleeping in that! It has worked out quite nicely. But yes, that is a good point about not having to buy any future beds if you start with a queen size!

    1. Hi! I would recommend cooking the chicken first. You can do this in a pan on the stove or in the oven. Then slice into bite sized pieces and add to the soup as directed in the instructions.

  5. This was excellent. I used fresh spinach and added lots of carrots. I left the salt out and just added a tiny bit in my bowel. I will definitely make this again.

    1. Hi Maggie, I haven’t experimented with making it dairy free. Sorry about that! I often suggest replacing with coconut milk but I’m not sure if the coconut flavour would go well with this soup.

  6. I feel like this might be a stupid question, but, how much evaporated milk? Is it 370ml total? Or 2x370ml?

    1. No, that’s a great question! It’s two cans of 370 ml each. I’ve updated the recipe to make that more clear.

  7. I made this recipe but I used Kale instead and I put insine corn and used heavy cream. Turned out great.

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