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Living in Texas means a really short soup season so when there is even the slightest cold breeze soup has to be on the menu. Our Italian sausage gnocchi soup combines our love of soup and our craving for Italian. Made with pillowy gnocchi this soup is hearty, flavorful, and worth a second bowl. The soup comes together quickly which makes it perfect for weeknight dinner.
What is Gnocchi?
Gnocchi is a small dumpling usually made from potatoes as well as eggs and flour. Gnocchi is usually sold in vacuum-sealed packages and can be found near the pasta in your local grocery store.
Like pasta, it is typically served with a variety of sauces and toppings such as cheese, tomato sauce, cream, or pesto. But unlike pasta, you can cook gnocchi by either boiling or pan-frying in a little oil or butter. Both methods produce gnocchi that is soft and pillowy on the inside but fried gnocchi will be crispy on the outside.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
While there is a long list of ingredients for this soup but there is little prep and it comes together quickly.
The full ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Italian Sausage gives the soup amazing flavor and adds to its heartiness. Italian sausage comes in several varieties and flavors. You want to use ground sausage for this recipe, not links, and if you want a little less heat use mild sausage. Not a fan of sausage? You can substitute ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken.
- Fennel Seeds have a sweet, licorice-like flavor and add an earthy, sweet taste to the soup. Crush them between your fingers as you add them to the soup.
- Onion and Garlic should be fresh, not powdered but if all you have on hand is onion powder and garlic powder it will do. Approximately 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder is equivalent to 1/4 cup of raw onion and about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to 2 cloves of pressed garlic. Be careful not to use onion salt or garlic salt by mistake.
- Chicken Broth can be substituted with Vegetable or Beef broth.
- Dried Herbs for this soup include our go-to Italian seasoning of parsley, rosemary, and basil. The number of herbs will need to be adjusted if you are using fresh. One tablespoon of fresh spice is approximately equivalent to one teaspoon of dried spice.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes are typically thicker-walled tomatoes packed in their juices and treated with calcium chloride to keep them firm. Substituting stewed or crushed tomatoes will change the texture and flavor of the soup since they are prepared differently before being canned.
- Spinach should be fresh, not frozen. If using bunch spinach instead of ‘baby spinach’, chop it into smaller pieces.
- Potato Gnocchi cooks quickly and is pillowy and soft. It is typically found in the dried pasta section of your grocery store. You can substitute fresh or frozen. If using frozen gnocchi don’t thaw them before cooking as they might stick together.
How to Make Italian Sausage Gnocchi Soup
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Shelf-stable gnocchi can last up to three months in the pantry so grab a couple of vacuum-packed bags to have on hand as an alternative to pasta.
1. Cook the Sausage: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes then cook until the sausage is brown. Using a wooden spoon break the sausage into smaller pieces as it cooks.
2. Soften the Onions: Add the garlic and onion to the sausage and cook for approximately 5 minutes stirring often.
3. Add the stock, tomato, and spices: To the onion and sausage add the chicken stock, water, and diced tomatoes with their juices, salt, pepper, basil, rosemary, and parsley. Stir all the ingredients together.
4. Simmer the Soup: Bring the soup to a boil and then allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Cook the Gnocchi: Add gnocchi to the soup and cook for approximately 5 minutes. The gnocchi will float to the top once it is fully cooked. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach to each bowl just prior to serving.
6. Plating: Serve hot and topped with your favorite shredded hard Italian cheese.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- The gnocchi cooks quickly so don’t walk too far away once you have added it to the soup. You definitely do not want mushy gnocchi.
- Rub the fennel seeds between your fingers to release all the oils from the fennel seeds.
- Wait to add the spinach to each bowl to avoid getting wilted spinach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Italian sausage gnocchi soup freezes great and is the perfect option for those no-cook nights. Once the soup has cooled store it in a freezer-safe container or gallons-size freezer bag. Freeze bags are my preference since they can be placed flat in the freezer and stacked. The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Additional freezer tip: don’t add spinach to the batch you plan on freezing. Add fresh spinach after you have reheated it.
To make this Italian sausage gnocchi soup in a crockpot or slow cooker, brown the sausage and add all the ingredients except the gnocchi, spinach, and cheese. Cook on low for about 6 hours or on high for about 4 hours. Add the gnocchi about 20 minutes before serving. Gnocchi should float to the top when they are done cooking. Add spinach prior to soup prior to serving. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
If you don’t have Italian sausage or just want to try something else, there are a few great alternatives such as ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken.
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Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this easy 30-minute recipe, we recommend checking out these other quick and easy pasta recipes:
Italian Sausage Gnocchi Soup
- 1 Large Pot or Dutch Oven
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 teaspoon dried fennel
- ¼ cup yellow or white onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with the juice
- 1 teaspoon salt kosher
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups spinach fresh
- 1 16 ounce package gnocchi dried
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add sausage and fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes and cook until sausage is brown. Break the sausage into smaller pieces as it cooks.
- Add the garlic and onion and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Stir often.
- Add the chicken stock, water, diced tomatoes with their juices, salt, pepper, basil, rosemary, and parsley. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add gnocchi and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Gnocchi will float to the top when they are cooked.
- Turn off heat and stir in the spinach just prior to serving.
- Serve hot and topped with Parmesan cheese.