This creamy Vegan Gnocchi Soup is so cozy and easy to make in under 25 minutes. It tastes just like the Olive Garden classic but with chickpeas instead of chicken without sacrificing any flavor.
This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for details.
Hey Internet, I’m not a stranger to gnocchi but it’s kinda new to my blog. Recently I published my air fryer gnocchi recipe and I also thought, since I have all this gnocchi on hand, why don’t I make a soup?
And wow, that was a good decision. It turns out vegan gnocchi soup is really delicious and really easy to make. Definitely a new favorite in my house.
My husband and I almost fought over the leftovers. The only reason it didn’t turn into a real fight is I was just able to make some more up really quickly. Whew.
Anyway, this creamy vegan soup is right along the lines of my favorites here on the blog: vegan cream of mushroom soup, vegan stew with dumplings , vegan tom kha, vegan cream of chicken soup, vegan chicken and dumplings, and there’s a lot more, honestly.
But today is about gnocchi soup so that’s what we’re going to talk about.
Gnocchi, which are little potato and flour dumplings, are actually classified as pasta, though I think they are the dumpling lovechild of pasta and potatoes.
Sometimes companies and individuals make gnocchi with egg or ricotta cheese, but I was easily able to find vegan gnocchi at the store. You can also make your own if you’d prefer.
Prepackaged gnocchi can be gummy or tough, but I’ve purchased great gnocchi at World Market, Whole Foods, and other places. I also often buy it online.
My favorite brand is Delallo Foods Gnocchi. They also make a gluten-free version that is also vegan if you can’t have gluten.
The rest of this vegan gnocchi soup is made with some basic soup veggies, some chickpeas instead of chicken (substitutes available), and some vegan cream (many options) at the end to make it super creamy. And don’t forget a generous crack of black pepper.
Why This Recipe Works
This creamy vegan soup recipe starts like many of mine do: with some aromatics: onion, carrots, celery, and garlic sauteed in vegan butter (or oil is fine). If you don’t cook with oil, you’re welcome to use broth or water.
These provide a huge base of flavor and some good micronutrients to boot. Don’t skip if you can help it.
To make a nice thick vegan gnocchi soup, we’ll add a little flour to the vegetables along with a bit of herbs. Rice flour or a good gluten-free blend will work if you and gluten aren’t pals.
Then it’s chickpeas, broth, gnocchi (the most important part!), and finally, when it’s almost done, some vegan cream (again, I’ve got a bunch of options for this) and some spinach. For balance, right?
This soup comes together so easily in less than 30 minutes. And it’s so cozy. And you’ll probably have leftovers which is definitely a good thing.
Does this soup taste EXACTLY like Olive Garden? No, not exactly. But it’s really close, and really delicious, and completely vegan so give it a try!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter (or oil): You can definitely cook oil-free with a little extra broth (or water) if you like, but the vegan butter helps to make a thick and luscious vegan gnocchi soup.
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 large rib celery (or 2 small ribs)
- 2 large carrots
- ¾ teaspoon dried thyme (or your preferred herbs)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper: Use fresh cracked pepper from a grinder for better flavor. I recommend only adding a little here, and you can add more to the finished soup if you’d like.
- 2-3 cloves garlic (about 2 tablespoons minced garlic)
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour: This helps us make a thick and creamy vegan gnocchi soup. If you are gluten-free, feel free to use rice flour or your favorite gluten-free flour blend.
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (15-ounce can, drained and rinsed): For this soup I really liked the chickpeas, but if you’re looking for a vegan chicken experience, try soy curls (read more about how I prep my soy curls for soup in my soy curls recipes and FAQs article), young green jackfruit (I prepare it like this vegan shredded chicken for soup, or purchase a prepared vegan chicken substitute from your grocery store.
- 4 - 5 cups vegan chicken broth, to taste: I personally love Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed with hot water (I do a lower paste to water ratio than the jar suggests to reduce the sodium content) as it’s economical and it stores well. You could also buy prepared Imitation Chicken Broth though I generally feel this needs a little salt added but you can taste test and season to your preference. Any other brand of vegan chicken bouillon will work well, or of course you can also use vegetable broth.
- 16 - 32 ounces gnocchi: This soup can accommodate up to 2 pounds of gnocchi for a really loaded soup, or 1 pound will work fine for a more balanced soup. I prefer it somewhere in the middle, and save my extra half pound to make air fryer gnocchi. You can use homemade or store bought. I have even seen vegan gluten-free gnocchi. Check my Frequently Asked Questions section below for more information.
- ½ cup or more (up to 1 cup) of vegan cream: You can use cashew cream (blend raw cashews and water), sunflower seed cream (blend raw sunflower seeds and water), store-bought plant based heavy cream, or a thick non-dairy milk (unsweetened and “original” flavor). Full fat canned coconut milk also works well, but use a good brand like Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk or Native Forest Coconut Milk so you don’t taste the coconut.
- 1-2 cups baby spinach, optional: I like to roughly chop this and throw it in for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking. But it’s optional. Adds extra nutritional value though!
How to Make Vegan Gnocchi Soup
- Melt the vegan butter (if using) in a large nonstick pot over medium high heat. If not using vegan butter, you can do olive oil, avocado oil, or another oil OR if you’re oil-free, keep adding broth or water a tablespoon at a time while you cook the veggies and stir constantly to keep from burning or sticking.
- Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and stir frequently for 3 minutes until somewhat softened.
- Add the thyme, black pepper, and garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly so as not to burn the garlic.
- Now sprinkle in the flour. Stir constantly for 30 seconds.
- Add your chickpeas and slowly stir in the broth.
- Let the soup come to a boil, add the gnocchi carefully so as not to splash hot soup on yourself (I speak from experience unfortunately… not fun!), and give it a good stir.
- Return the soup to a boil after adding the gnocchi and then lower the heat to medium low and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the vegan cream (whatever kind you’re using, start with ½ cup and add more if needed) and chopped spinach. I say up to 1 cup of the plant based cream because I liked to add about ½ cup but sometimes my husband wanted to add an extra bit of the cream to his, so I think it’s more of a personal preference. Cook 1-2 additional minutes until the spinach is wilted.
- Season (if needed) and serve! Note that if you used a different bouillon or a low sodium broth, you may need to add salt but I felt mine was salty enough. Add some more fresh cracked black pepper before serving though, and feel free to garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or grated vegan parmesan (we like the Violife parmesan block). Enjoy immediately.
- Refrigerate leftover vegan gnocchi soup in an airtight container or you can freeze the soup for up to 90 days in an airtight freezer-safe container. The soup thickens a bit more after cooling but it will thin out if you add a splash of hot broth or water when reheating.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use fresh gnocchi. I used dried gnocchi because that’s what I have available to me. Fresh (bought or homemade) will also work but may have a shorter cook time, so check and test them often.
Sometimes gnocchi are made with egg or ricotta cheese, but I have had an easy time finding vegan gnocchi at various stores near me such as World Market, Whole Foods, and stores owned by Albertsons. You can also purchase them online from brands like Delallo Foods Gnocchi. They also make a gluten-free version that is also vegan!
At the 8 minute mark, remove a gnocchi from the pot and place on a cutting board or small plate, gently slice it down the middle. Does it feel/taste tender? It’s done. Does it feel/taste a little gummy? It’s not done, cook for 2-3 more minutes and check again. You may have a different cook time depending on the thickness and volume of your pot, the power of your stove and burner, etc.
I vote for vegan garlic bread all the way. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making that, try making my vegan garlic butter and slathering it on a roll or something. I could also see this being served with air fryer brussels sprouts or any other veggie.
The longer the soup simmers the thicker it will become. However, you don’t want to overcook the gnocchi. I haven’t had this issue, but what you could do is add a cornstarch slurry made from mixing 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl or cup, then stir it into the soup. It will thicken fairly quickly.
You sure can. I highly recommend sauteing your veggies (onion, carrot, celery, garlic) for a few minutes before adding them to the slow cooker but that’s optional (for more flavor). Add the veggies to the pot along with the thyme, black pepper, and broth. Cook for 3 hours on low. Then add the chickpeas, gnocchi, and cook for another hour on low. If the soup is really thin, add a cornstarch slurry made from 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and stir it well, letting it cook a bit more till thickened.
Pro Tips for Success
- I recommend having your veggies chopped up, broth prepared, chickpeas drained and rinsed, and seasonings and flour measured out before beginning. It really helps reduce the amount of stress when cooking since some parts go quite quickly.
- Don’t skip bringing the soup back to a boil after adding the gnocchi, as the gnocchi will take much longer to cook if you skip it.
- At the same time, don’t boil the soup instead of simmer, as instructed, because then the gnocchi can overcook and the soup won’t thicken properly.
- If you’d rather use a vegan chicken substitute instead of chickpeas, try soy curls (like in my vegan orzo soup), jackfruit (like in my vegan shredded chicken recipe), or a store-bought vegan chicken alternative.
- For a twist, try my vegan sausage (seitan based) or my vegan sausage crumbles (tofu based) instead of chickpeas.
- There are many types of plant based creams out there to make your soup creamy. I prefer using either cashew cream (raw cashews soaked and blended with hot water), full fat canned coconut milk (a good brand like Thai Kitchen or Nature’s Harvest won’t taste strongly of coconut), or sunflower seed cream (raw sunflower seeds blended with hot water) to make my vegan gnocchi soup creamy. Use what you know you like if you’ve made creamy vegan recipes before.
More Recipes Like This
Soup is my favorite kind of meal. It’s only one pot to manage and clean up, it’s filling, and there are endless possibilities! Here are my favorites:
- Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Vegan Orzo Soup
- Jackfruit Stew
- Vegan Beef Stew
- Vegan Chicken and Dumplings
- Veggie Broth based Vegan Dumpling Stew
- Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- Vegan Chicken and Stars Soup
- Butternut Squash Carrot Ginger Soup
- Vegan Tom Kha
- Vegan Cream of Chicken Soup