Recipe: Shrimp and artichoke soup with spring herb gnocchi

BRIGHT AND EASY: Shrimp and artichoke soup with spring herb gnocchi. (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Servings: 6

Fresh herb gnocchi

1/2 cup ricotta

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 teaspoon minced tarragon

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 teaspoon minced chives

5 to 6 tablespoons flour, plus extra for rolling gnocchi

1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the ricotta, egg yolk, Parmigiano-Reggiano, tarragon, parsley and chives until smooth. Beat in the flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture forms a ball that holds together. It may still be slightly sticky.

2. Flour your hands. Tear off a small piece of the dough and roll it between your palms to form a small ball roughly one-half-inch across. Set aside on a lightly floured towel and repeat, using up all of the dough. You should have about 30 gnocchi. Refrigerate on a tray, lightly covered in plastic wrap, until needed. The gnocchi will keep for 2 days, uncooked.

Soup and assembly

1/3 pound medium shrimp, shell on

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon mixed chopped herbs (chives, tarragon, parsley), plus a handful of reserved stems

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large artichokes (or 4 medium or 6 small), trimmed to hearts and cut in rough 3/4 -inch pieces

Fresh herb gnocchi

1. Peel the shrimp, collecting the shells in a saucepan. Cut the meat in half crosswise. To the shells, add the onion, garlic, salt, peppercorns, lemon and a handful of herb stems. Add 6 cups water and bring to a simmer. Cook 30 minutes.

2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the chopped artichokes and cook, stirring, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour the shrimp stock through a strainer over the artichokes and simmer until the artichokes are tender enough to cut with the back of a knife, about 10 minutes. Add the shrimp and continue cooking over low heat. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerated tightly covered; reheat gently.)

3. Carefully drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. Just cook a handful at a time. Stir gently to keep them from sticking to the bottom and cook until they float to the surface, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the pot with a skimmer and add to the soup pot. Repeat, cooking all of the gnocchi.

4. Ladle the finished soup into six warmed soup or pasta bowls, sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Each serving: 196 calories; 10 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 87 mg. cholesterol; 762 mg. sodium.