Rustic Italian Gnocchi Soup

I'm not sure what it's like where all of you are, but it is definitely soup weather here in the Mitten! Freezing cold temps, threat of snow most days, high winds, gray skies...it all screams warm comfort food.  After getting stranded at my parents for a weekend (not that it's a bad thing) and missing out on Valentine's Day with my hubby (ok, that was bad), my husband and I were pondering why anyone actually lives in the cold Midwestern and Northeastern states. I guess the change of seasons is worth it? Every winter, I think all Michiganders get to a point where they question their reasons for living here. And then winter finally breaks, and we brag about how awesome it is to live in a place where you get a change in seasons and get to experience leaves changing colors, sunsets over the Great Lakes, and the fresh smell of life blooming again in the spring. Until then, we have soup weather. 

Don't worry, I've got you covered. 

This soup will heat you up and warm your soul while you dream of warmer weather that lies ahead. 

I received this recipe from a family friend and made a few tweaks to it to up the nutrition a little. I used turkey sausage instead of pork sausage for less fat and added some extra veggies for added fiber, vitamins, and minerals. I love this soup because it feels indulgent but it's really not all that bad for you and packs a nutritional punch with all the veggies!

Rustic Italian Gnocchi Soup

Makes about 6 servings

3 tablespoons flour

14 ounces spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (you can also use sweet Italian turkey sausage if you don't like things spicy)

2-14 ounce cans low sodium chicken broth (about 4 cups)

1 cup low-fat or fat free milk

1-14 ounce can no salt added diced tomatoes

1 small onion, diced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

10-ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

2 roasted red bell peppers, drained 

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

1-16 ounce package gnocchi

3 cups baby spinach, chopped 

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil 

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving, optional 

1. In a small bowl, whisk together ½ cup cold water and flour. Set aside. 

2. Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned and cooked through using a spoon to break sausage up into bite-sized pieces, about 5-8 minutes. 

3. Add ½ cup water, broth, milk, and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil. 

4. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, roasted peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and black pepper. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. 

5. Uncover, slowly stir in the slurry and continue stirring while the soup returns to a boil.

6. Add gnocchi and cook for 2-4 minutes.  Stir in spinach and basil to wilt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan cheese, if desired.