Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

If you have ever been to Olive Garden, you may be familiar with this soup. The sausage, bacon, potatoes, kale, and creamy broth meld into a heartwarming and satisfying bowl of goodness.

This soup comes together very easily, and is a great way to get in a serving of healthful greens! Trust me, you won't even notice them. The recipe is easily modified to suit your preferences; hot or mild, thick or thin, russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, heavy cream or half & half, bacon or no get what I'm saying!

If you have never had this soup as Olive Garden, make this recipe and revel in the fact that you are probably eating a much healthier version; and it tastes just as good! If you have had this soup at Olive Garden, made this recipe and revel in that fact that you are saving a bundle of cash and that you have restaurant chef talent! You see, either way I have ordered you to cook this soup for your families. And do it quick, because cozy soup weather is pretty much gone. I seem to be behind on these seasonal food trends that all my fellow bloggers keep up with faithfully. Oh well, at least kale is in season.

Zuppa Toscana (Print)
adapted from America's Most Wanted Recipes
Prep: 40 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings

1 pound sausage: spicy, mild, or Italian; ground or removed from casings
8 ounces smoked bacon, chopped (optional)
3 to 4 cups water
2 (14.5 ounce) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups cubed russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/3 cup diced onion
2 cups chopped kale or swiss chard
1 cup heavy cream or half & half
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a skillet, brown sausage; drain and set aside. Meanwhile, prep vegetables as directed above. To prepare kale: hold the stem at the base. Using a knife, slash downward to remove leafy portion from either side of tough stem. Stack several washed leaves, roll into cigar shape and chop to desired size -Cook's Illustrated

2. If using bacon, cook it at this time in a skillet. Drain and set aside.

3. In a 4-quart pot, combine the water, broth, potatoes, garlic, and onion. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered,  until potatoes are tender; 10-15 minutes.

4. Add the sausage and bacon. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered.

5. Add the kale and cream or half & half. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until heated through, do not allow to boil.

Note: To address all of the options, here is what I used for all the the 'or' ingredients: mild ground sausage, bacon, 4 cups water (but I thought it was too much liquid), russet potatoes, kale, and half & half. I did not think the bacon added much flavor, which is why I left it as optional. The sausage really takes the stage here, and that's even using mild. Feel free to use any combination of the listed options to make your preferred soup!

My Review

  • Preparation: 4
    • After cutting up the vegetables, just let it simmer away!
  • Taste: 5
    • I really enjoyed this soup, even as leftovers for the next few days. The recipe book said it serves 4...those must be some very hungry people because we had many servings left!
  • Cost: 4
    • Sausage and bacon may be a little pricey, but the soup serves 6-8.
  • Clean-up: 3
    • 2-3 pots and a cutting board, but it's worth it!
  • Changes
    • As mentioned above, there are many ways to customize this recipe to your liking. Two main points I want to highlight:
      • I think there was too much liquid in the original recipe (4 cups water). I recommend reducing the water by a cup, but I used 4 cups when I made the recipe, so make your own judgement call here.
      • The bacon did not add much flavor, and I will just leave it out next time.
  • Summary
    • This delicious soup is too delicious to pass up!
I apologize for being MIA! I did not have a computer for about a week and I have been working extra shifts lately. Have a great week and I will be back soon!

1 comment:

  1. So I make this all the time (almost daily) but I do not use bacon, kale, and sometimes not even potatoes. Also, I don't like to eat sausage or crushed red peppers so I have a different approach. I use the hot johnsonville Italian sausages and bake them at 425 degrees for 20-35 minutes (watch for juices breaking through casing) and then slice them in half and boil the halfs before the potatoes are fully cooked then pull them out. That leaves the flavor but no sausage. I also empty a tea bag, put crushed red pepper in it and tie the bag shut. This goes in with the first ingredients and comes out before the cream is put in. Anyway you make it, its hot and delish!