When hubby goes on his fishing weekends, it's basically a girls' weekend at the house. We get to cook a lot of what we like, and because I am on my own, I rely on the crock pot for at least one meal to help me out. This recipe caught my eye from a great food blog, 365daysofcrockpot.com. We love gnocchi, and I was able to find some gluten free gnocchi for me. I just cooked the gnocchi separately (normal for my daughter and the GF ones for me) and set the aside until soup assembly time. It worked out great, and kept the consistency more soupy. If you cook gnocchi in the soup for the last ten minutes, I would imagine it would thicken up the soup a bit.
I did make other alterations to the recipe, the main one being using real bacon, and cooking it at the beginning of the recipe, and using the pan and the drippings to cook the other ingredients so there is a smokier, deeper flavor throughout the soup. I also added the red pepper flakes for a little kick. If you want to skip the heat, the original recipe used a bay leaf instead.
Give this recipe a try for a busy day. Prep as much as you can the day before and assembly should be quick.
Slow Cooker Chicken, Bacon and Kale Gnocchi Soup
Adapted from 365 days of crock pot
4 oz. (5-6 slices) bacon
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, grated
3 medium carrots, grated
3 celery stalks, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
5 cups chicken stock
4 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed in 4 Tbsp. water
2 cups fat free half and half
1-2 lbs gnocchi
3 kale leaves, veins trimmed out, leaves roughly chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan for topping
Grate the vegetables, and mince the garlic, and set it all aside in a large bowl. In a small bowl add the red pepper flakes with oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and set aside. First, cook the bacon until crispy over medium heat. Set the bacon aside, and store in the fridge until ready to use in the recipe. Drain off the drippings except for about 1 Tbsp. and return the pan to the stove.
In the pan over medium heat add the chicken to the bacon drippings and sear both sides until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to the crock pot, and return the pan to the heat.
In the same pan over medium heat, now add the grated vegetables and the minced garlic. When the vegetables begin to soften, add the spices, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until all the vegetables are soft, scraping the pan as you stir to get all the caramelization and juices from the bacon and chicken. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours, or until chicken is tender.
Remove chicken and place on a cutting board and shred. Turn the slow cooker to high. Mix 4 Tbsp of cornstarch with an equal amount of water and stir together until smooth. Stir into the slow cooker with the chicken, and recover to keep the heat in.
Warm the half and half in the microwave for 1-2 minutes (or else it will curdle) and add it into the slow cooker. Stir well.
Chop the bacon up, and it to the soup with the kale. If you want, you can add the gnocchi in at this point to cook the gnocchi with the soup. Alternately you can cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup to serve. Let the kale and bacon cook on high for 10 minutes, or until the kale is tender.
Ladle into serving bowls and top each serving with a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.