It’s a very difficult time for all of us at the moment. No matter where you are, we’re all experiencing the fear and nerves of this situation, but luckily we’re in this together and we will get through it. We already have enough on our minds, and so the last thing we need to be worrying about right now is what to cook for dinner. So I thought it would be helpful if I started to share some very easy recipes with minimal ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry and fridge. You might have a few ingredients laying around and don’t know what to do with them, and maybe you’re in need of a bit of inspiration? I hope these recipes will be helpful to you, as I’ll try to make them as easy to put together as possible, and easy to substitute the ingredients for what you might have on hand. I tried to challenge myself by going to the grocery store today and seeing what was left and make up recipes based on what I found. I grabbed a few ingredients here and there and the recipes evolved as I grabbed ingredients and placed them into my cart. Which was a bit difficult because if you’ve been to a grocery store these days, a lot of the shelves are empty. But I’m here to say that it is not impossible to create something out of nothing. The first recipe up is this Gnocchi Broccoli Cheddar Soup. It’s rich, hearty, and exactly what we need right now.
Let’s start by crisping up some chopped bacon. Cook in a soup pot, stirring often, until crispy and brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Drain off most of the bacon grease and discard.
**Tip: The entire post of this recipe is to use whatever you have on hand or whatever you can find at the store (if you decide to brave the stores at this point). With that being said, you can use bacon or swap it out for ham, Canadian bacon, pancetta or even sausage if you have that on hand. You can also keep things vegetarian and omit the meat completely.**
Add the butter to the pot, along with the chopped onion, garlic and chili flakes. Cook until translucent, and just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
**Note: If you’re not a fan of spicy you can leave out the crushed red pepper flakes or use paprika instead. A small pinch won’t add too much heat at all, but rather give the soup a tiny well-rounded kick in flavor.**
Stir in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds or so. You’re not looking to cook it for long, but rather just cook off some of that raw flour taste. This will help thicken the soup!
Slowly stir in the chicken stock and milk.
**Tip: Again, use whatever you have on hand. If you have vegetable stock, use that instead. If you have neither you can use water. You’ll just need to season it a bit more since water doesn’t have any flavor. And if you don’t have whole milk, you can use a lower fat milk or coconut milk would work too!**
Add the broccoli florets and gnocchi and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook until the broccoli has softened a bit and the soup has thickened, about 5 to 8 minutes.
**Tip: I stocked up on store-bought gnocchi but if you don’t have any on hand, you can dice up a potato or two and simmer until it has softened. Sweet potato, cauliflower, or even carrots would be great in here!**
Once thickened, season the soup with a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the shredded cheese until melted through and the soup is silky. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
**Tip: Feel free to use whatever kind of cheese you have on hand. Most cheeses will work in here! Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Fontina, Colby and Gruyere would all work in here and give the soup a different flavor profile!**
At this point you can serve the soup or you can cool it down and then freeze or stick in the fridge for later in the week. It keeps really well, and just gets better over time.
Ladle into shallow bowls and garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of the crispy bacon from earlier, scallion and coarse black pepper. If you have crusty bread (which is a hot commodity these days) you can tear it into pieces and serve it on the side for dipping.
I know it’s a rich soup because of the gnocchi and the cheese and bacon BUT we really need comfort food right now. It’s slightly better than a traditional broccoli cheddar soup because the base is primarily chicken stock, rather than cream or milk. Of course, there’s a a bit of milk because you need that creaminess in this soup. That’s what makes it so great!
I hope you can whip up this recipe with things you already have on hand. The ingredient list isn’t so crazy and you can easily swap things out for what you have on hand already. If you have any questions on substitutions, please feel free to reach out below and ask away! I’ll be sure to stay on top of them. I’ll be sharing some more quick and easy recipes on the blog that you can make during this difficult time, so look out for them. Above all please take care of yourselves and loved ones and stay safe!
- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock or water
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 12 ounces fresh broccoli florets, roughly chopped
- 12 ounces store-bought gnocchi
- Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
- 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Crusty bread, for serving
- Set a pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped bacon and cook, stirring often, until crispy and brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Drain off most of the bacon grease and discard.
- Add the butter to the pot, along with the onion, garlic and chili flakes. Cook until translucent, and just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds or so. Then stir in the chicken stock and milk. Add the broccoli and gnocchi and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook until the broccoli has softened a bit and the soup has thickened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Once thickened, season the soup with a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the shredded cheese until melted through and the soup is silky. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
- Ladle into shallow bowls and garnish each with a sprinkle of crispy bacon, scallion and coarse black pepper. Serve with crusty bread on the side for dipping. Enjoy!