I hate to post right above the wonderful pictures provided by everyone!
Here's the soup recipe though.
flour (or similar thickening agent)
optional: half and half or cream
anything else you want/want to take out
This soup is super super versatile, like any soup. Really you can put just about anything you want in there or substitute anything.
So, first thing you want to prep your vegetables. I prefer to chop my onion and celery super fine, as well as grate the carrots. I can't give you an exact amount since I sort of eyeball it, but I usually use half a bag of big carrots, half a bag of celery and a whole medium yellow onion (this is for a recipe that makes about 7-12 bowls) Once again, you can always do less or more, or not at all to your fancy.
Now for the big guns. You want to mince your garlic and saute it in the bottom of a very big soup pan. next, add your thickening agent to the vegetables and toss to coat thoroughly. When the garlic looks right, about very light brown for me. (also this is as much or little as you'd like, as with all the ingredients) Then add your coated vegetables and make a rue. The flour will thicken up with the oil and cause this pasty like look to the whole thing, it's normal. When you've made the rue you then add the milk/cream/half & half. I do it until it looks like a good amount of liquid to vegetable ratio (about a half gallon or a little more for the above mentioned amounts)
Now let your mixture get to a boil, and be sure to stir REALLY REALLY good, scraping the bottom often. Otherwise the garlic/flour mixture will stick to the bottom of the pot and you won't get any of the yummyness/you'll be scrubbing the pan till kingdom come.
Now take your vegetable bullion (one cube, or about a teaspoon) and dissolve it in either a little bit of water or more of the milk. I like to do this in a measuring cup and put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds then stir it up and it dissolves pretty easily. Add this to the big pot and stir in to blend.
Next you want to add your salt and pepper to taste. Then the lemon comes. You have to be really careful about this part, or it'll curdle the milk. I always do this part when the mixture is nearing the end and is pretty hot/boiling. You also want to mix it very well together to get it evenly throughout. I usually do about 1 1/2 teaspoons for a big pot, but you can do it to taste. It just gives it a little zing that isn't there otherwise. I think it's a super important ingredient, so don't let the whole thing scare you into not adding it.
Now dump in your potato gnocchi and follow the directions till they're done. It's usually about 5 minutes in the boiling mixture, or till a lot of them start floating. You can always do the tried and true taste test. (Also, on a side note, don't try these raw, they're SUPER nasty, just ya know, saving you the curiosity. Always cook first.)
For the final part you turn off the heat and take fresh spinach and tear it up a little in your hands above the pot. I do it till it looks pretty, plus I really like spinach, so I usually add a whole bag for a big pot.
Anyway, feel free to deviate. I've definitely put in other vegetables like cabbage, asparagus, zucchini, etc. They're all good, although something like red cabbage gives it a slightly funnier color.
Oh! and those who want the meat version. You just chop up little pieces of chicken and saute it with the garlic at the initial stage until the chicken is cooked and the garlic is browned. You can also use chicken bouillon instead if you prefer, but i've found that the vegetable bouillon makes it taste better than anything else.
It's really a lot better with salt and a little more time to make sure everything's the way you like it. It's also really good with some french bread and a little mozarella cheese sprinkled on top of a hot bowl, just sayin.