I am pretty sure I continue to make soup and post about soup because I love soup (I have already copped to my soup obsession, so I won’t bore you with that whole song and dance again) and I am trying to bring on Fall. It has been so hot and so dry here I just about can’t stand it anymore and I know we are all ready for a change in atmosphere. Low and behold, I made this zuppa toscana and it rained. And it may not get out of the 80’s today, so…I am not saying this soup has magical powers…maybe the rain and no more 100 degree weather coming after I made it is a coincidence…maybe not. One thing I am positive about is that this copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipe is amazing!!
O.M.G. Sweet Mother of pearl, this stuff is awesome. i will be honest and say I have never order the zuppa toscana when I eat at the OG. I have always been a minestrone girl. And then a chicken gnocchi girl. Oh the chicken gnocchi. I could write a song about my love for chicken gnocchi. That is a blog post for another time. That WILL be a blog post for another time in the very near future. But back to the fabulous zuppa toscana (come on say it with me…zuppa toscana…don’t you feel fancy?) This soup is hearty, a little spicy and just so good. Oh and let me add, it is so flipping easy to prepare. I started it earlier in the day and then finished it after I picked the kids up from school before going to a PTA meeting. It fit right in there. My hubby loved it. And he is not as fond of soups as I am, so that is saying a lot. I hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think. I will be having the leftovers for lunch today…I honestly cannot wait.
Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana (adapted from Mom on time out blog)
1 lb. mild Italian sausage, the actual sausage removed from the casing
6 slices of bacon
5 medium size russet potatoes or red potatoes (i used red because that is what I had and I really liked the color it added to the soup and they tasted wonderful)
2 cups of kale, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 quart water
2 14 oz. cans of chicken broth (I used reduced sodium)
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes*
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Ok…you can brown the italian sausage in a skillet like normal. Trish (mom on time out blog) suggested you crumble the sausage (again…removed from its casing) on to a baking sheet and bake it at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. I did this and let me tell you…that is the way to go. After it is no longer pink, remove the sausage from the baking sheet with a spatula and drain on paper towels. At the same time the sausage was baking, I placed my 6 slices of bacon on a rack in a baking pan and cooked it too. The bacon took longer than the sausage, probably 30 minutes longer. Watch it carefully though. I had no problems cooking either in the oven, but of course, you would want to keep an eye on it. Again, you can pan fry both if you feel more comfortable doing it that way.
While that is cooking, dice your onion. Then slice your potatoes. Just make sure the slices are uniform. 1/8 ” to 1/4 ” is about right. Again, you are looking for uniformity here so the potato slices cook evenly and mince your garlic. Add your chicken broth and water to your soup pot or dutch oven. Throw in your sliced potatoes, onion and garlic. Cook on medium heat until the potatoes are fork tender. Chop the kale by chopping into bite sized pieces. Kale holds up to heat very well, much better than spinach I must say. It is so good for you too!! Super food and super yum!! Score!! Add the sausage, bacon, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. *Now I will tell you this, add the red pepper flakes sparingly. My good friend Betsy turned me on to red pepper flakes a few years ago and I am definitely a fan, but they pack a punch so use sparingly. I probably used 1 tsp. and that was plenty of heat for us.
Simmer this on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The potatoes will start to fall about this time. Turn the heat down to low and add in the kale and heavy cream. Continue to let this simmer until heated through. Then ladle that delicious stuff into soup bowls and if you are so inclined, grate a little fresh Parmesan on top and enjoy.