Spinach Soup with Chilli Gnocchi

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

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Gnocchi can be light and, when spiced with hot chilli and fresh coriander, make a very Mediterranean addition to this deeply green fresh - yet satisfying - soup.

There is a view that if you include eggs in gnocchi they will go rubbery. However, the addition of just one size-3 egg does nothing but lighten the dumplings a fraction and ensures that the potato-and-flour base does not sog into the cooking water.

This is a recipe in which frozen spinach works if fresh is unobtainable. Onions can be substituted for shallots.


  • 675 g/ lb potatoes
  • 4 hot fresh red chillies
  • handful of coriander leaves
  • 1/4 nutmeg
  • 200 g/7 oz self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 size-3 egg
  • 250 g/ oz shallots
  • 450 g/1 lb spinach leaves or defrosted frozen leaf spinach
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.1 litres/2 pt chicken stock
  • salt and pepper



Peel the potatoes, cut them into large chunks and cook in a large pan of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, return to the pan and shake over a low heat to dry off excess moisture.

Destalk, deseed and shred the chillies and add to the potatoes. Destalk and chop the coriander leaves and add these. Season with a little grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Mash with a potato masher or an electric whisk until free of lumps. Take out 2 heaped tablespoons and reserve these for thickening the soup. Add the flour and beat briefly to amalgamate. Add the egg and beat in.

Turn out on a floured surface, knead briefly and divide into 4. Roll each quarter into a cylinder with a diameter of about 2.5 cm/1 in. Shake more flour over, cover with a cloth and leave while you make the soup.

Peel and chop the shallots. If using fresh spinach, pick it over, discarding any blemished leaves and cutting out larger stalks.


Heat a large pan of salted water to poach the dumplings.

Fry the shallots in the olive oil until translucent, grate in a little nutmeg to taste and add the stock. Bring to the boil and add the spinach. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Put in a liquidizer or food processor with the reserved potato and whizz to a creamy purée. Season with salt and pepper, return to the pan and keep hot over a very low heat.

Cut the gnocchi cylinders into individual dumplings. You decide how big you want to make them, but 2.5 cm/1 in lengths puff up nicely.

Poach in the simmering salted water for 5 minutes and remove with a spider or slotted spoon.


Transfer the cooked gnocchi to warmed soup bowls and ladle over the spinach soup. A neat combination.

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