Recipe testing: Isa Chandra’s vegan pesto gnocchi soup

February 19, 2014

There is a recipe that has been circling the twitterverse lately that was just too tasty sounding to pass up: pesto gnocchi soup with chard.


The recipe is from Isa Chandra, posted on The Guardian website. You can also find it in the Isa Does It cookbook (one of my favorite vegan cookbooks at the moment).


Instead of regular chard, I used baby rainbow chard and some baby spinach. I also didn’t use any beans or pine nuts, as I’m not a huge fan of them on their own. Instead, I used some of my cashew “parmesan” as a topper to give it a bit of nuttiness.


All in all the recipe is really simple and easy to make, not to mention super healthy – perfect for a chilly midweek meal. It was so good that Andrew and I were practically licking the pot clean. So I guess the only thing I wish I had changed was doubling the recipe so we had leftovers!

gnocchi pesto soup

Ingredients (adapted from the original)

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 450g), trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1.25l vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot or organic cornstarch
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 225g frozen gnocchi, partially thawed (leave on the counter for 30 minutes or so)
  • 1 small bunch baby rainbow chard, stems discarded, leaves torn into bite–size pieces
  • 1 small bunch baby spinach
  • Cashew “parmesan” for garnish (optional)


Preheat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Saute the garlic in the oil for about 1 minute, taking care not to let it burn. Add the cauliflower, 1 liter of the stock, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, stirring every now and again and boiling for about 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

In a measuring cup, vigorously mix together the remaining 1 cup of stock and the arrowroot until dissolved. Lower the heat a bit so that the soup is at a low boil. Mix in the broth and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes, stirring often, until slightly thickened. Add the basil leaves and remove from the heat. Use a hand blender to puree until smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, then use a blender or food processor to puree in batches, being careful to lift the lid once in a while to let steam escape. Taste for seasoning.

Return the soup to the stove over a medium heat and add the gnocchi; cover and let it cook for 3 minutes or so. Add the greens and beans and cook until they are completely wilted and the beans are heated through, about 5 more minutes. Be careful as you stir not to crush the gnocchi or beans. Serve garnished with extra basil and pine nuts, if you like.

  • Rainy Writer February 20, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    That does look yummers. I went to the website and just printed out the recipe.

    Question – when you say you used “cashew parmesan” … do you mean you ground up some cashews? I was thinking of foregoing the beans and navy beans and pine nuts too. (I like pine nuts … but if left in the soup overnight it actually soaks up the moisture and becomes this huge un-pine nut like thing.)

    • lindsaybelle February 21, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Yup – I used the cashew parmesan I normally use on pasta dishes which is just blitzed cashews mixed with a little salt. It tastes really nice as a topper on the soup!

      • Rainy Writer February 22, 2014 at 1:27 am

        I just got back from the market an hour ago … and got the remaining ingredients I needed.
        Chard – check.
        Cashews – check
        Matzo ball mix – check (is this the same as gnocchi?)
        Navy beans … as I decided to use it – waiiiiiitt. There was no navy beans at the market … so I looked it up … and it was also listed as Northern beans … so … check!

        I might make a photo blog too … we’ll see …

        • lindsaybelle February 22, 2014 at 10:26 am

          sounds great! and yeah – matzo balls sound good too! let me know how you like it : )

  • Rainy Writer February 23, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Ok … so the one I did turned out ok. It tasted good … but I think I reduced it wayyyy too much, That or the matzo balls and or navy beans gave out a lot of flour-y thickener.

    I like the way yours looks better too … the colors are much yum looking. Ohhhh … I made that cashew parmesan thing … and we FORGOT to use it. Arrrggh.

    Nevertheless, thanks again 🙂

  • Recipe index | Leicester Veggie September 6, 2014 at 9:25 am

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