Monday, May 6, 2013

~Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana {Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup}~

When I was in nursing school I worked as a server at The Olive Garden to support myself.  Tips were not great, and it was one of the hardest jobs I have ever had but I did get to eat there everyday.  One of my favorite soups was the Zuppa Toscana---spicy sausage, creamy potatoes and luscious kale. mouth is watering even as I type this.
It has been 15 years since I worked there, and I still crave that soup.  So, a year or so ago I set out to find a copy-cat recipe.  I found that there are many good ones out there.  I tried several of them but couldn't find one that I loved (some used 1 whole pound of sausage, others used fake bacon bits, etc, etc).  So, I came up with my own adaptation.  
My recipe uses less sausage and really lets the potatoes and kale shine.  Trust me, it is SO GOOD ! The best, if I do say so myself. :D
Ingredients (12 servings):
  • 1/2 lb Mild Italian Sausage casings removed
  • 3 Slices Bacon chopped
  • 1 cup White Onion chopped
  • 3 1/2 lbs Russet Potatoes sliced 
  • 10 cups Chicken Broth (I use Smart & Final's Chicken base to make 10 cups.  It is the BEST!  I highly recommend it if you can get it.)
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 bunch Kale chopped into bite size pieces
  • Black Pepper to taste
In a large stock pot, add the chicken broth, sliced potatoes, and red pepper flakes.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat low and simmer.  Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom dutch oven or frying pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat.  
When done, drain bacon on some paper towels. 
Reserve 1 teaspoon of bacon fat in the dutch oven and discard the remainder in the trash.  Add the onion and the bacon back to the dutch oven and saute over medium-high heat until the onion is soft.
Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute more. 

Pour bacon and onion mixture into the stock pot with the potatoes.  Now, using the same dutch oven, break up the mild Italian sausage into small chunks (it is easier to break up the sausage at this stage than later).
Cook over medium-high heat until no pink remains. 
Once done, add to the stock pot.  (I also like to deglaze the dutch oven with 1/2 cup of broth to get up all the favor-enhancing bits of meat left in the pan and add it to the stock pot too).
Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes break apart when stirred. Once the potatoes are cooked, add the heavy cream.
 and chopped kale. 
Then serve immediately and enjoy!
This recipe makes up to 12 servings and is so inexpensive!  Perfect for a family on a budget.  Love it.

Cost Breakdown:
Italian Sausage: 1.99
Bacon 0.75
Potatoes 1.00
White Onion: 0.99
Broth:  0.50
Garlic: 0.10
Spices: 0.10
Heavy Cream: 1.50
Kale: 1.99
Total=8.92/12 servings = 0.75 cents per serving

So, what do you think?  Do you love the OG's Zuppa Toscana as much as I do?  Have you found any other good copy-cat recipes?

{Check back soon for my Yam and Red Potato Beef Stew recipe and a antique dresser makeover.}

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