Monday, April 6, 2015

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Copycat Recipe

I would be lying if I said that this is was the first time that I attempted this recipe. I fell in love with this soup in my high school days and as soon as I knew enough about cooking on my own, I tried it. Back when the internet was shiny and new, I looked online to see if I could find a recipe that would at least come close to the soup I knew and loved. I did find a few different ones, but very few. Today, the internet is saturated with recipes and you can find a huge number of variations on this soup. I distinctly recall finding this recipe and not knowing what kale was! Oh, the days before kale became a thing... times were simpler then... but they're tastier now!

Here's a pin to a recipe that's similar to the one that I first found:

Here are the ingredients I gathered for this attempt:

In this photo you can also see my original recipe card that I wrote down, stained with many different versions of this soup! If you want my version of this recipe, here it is:

1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, crumbled
1/2 lb. smoked bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (or use the pre-chopped kind in the jar!)
1 qt. water
2 - 14.5 oz cans chicken broth (or you can sub boxed broth for this, I usually do now.)
2 large russet potatoes, cubed (organic potatoes are all I buy now, and so they're usually small, use 3 or 4)
2 cups kale, chopped (Be generous with this! Eat your greens!)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste

And in the picture there is my Blue Moon First Peach Ale... my cooking companion for the night. Delicious! There's also a can of biscuits that will not be making an appearance in this blog post. They were burnt. My bad. Ordinarily these Immaculate Baking Company Buttermilk Biscuits are an excellent companion to this soup. Don't burn yours.

I do most of my shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market, simply because I can buy all of the basics there and some of the specialty stuff most people go to Whole Foods for, and not have to take out a home equity loan to pay for it. I picked up some of their Hot Italian Pork Sausage and got to work on cooking it up!

You can get the bulk sausage if it's available or just use the link sausage. Simply remove the casing if you want to use the links. It cooks up pretty quickly, so keep an eye on it.

Meanwhile, cut your potatoes up into cubes... Or cube-ish shapes. I'm no prep work master, so this is my translation of cubed:

After your sausage is cooked up, put it on a paper towel to drain (If you skip this step, you'll have a bunch of unappetizing grease floating on the top of your soup. It won't be inedible, jut not as pretty). Then cook up your bacon, let it drain on paper towels, then chop it up and try to not eat up too much of the delicious bacon goodness! 

Saute your chopped onions until they're translucent, toss in the garlic and let it get aromatic. Then toss in your broth (or stock. Stock tastes gooooood.), water, and potatoes. Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it all simmer until the potatoes get tender (about 10 minutes).

After the potatoes get soft (but not mushy) add in the bacon and sausage and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Then add the cream and kale, stir, then serve it up! 

This soup hits the spot every time. It's one of my favorite cold weather soups, but who am I kidding...I love it in all weather! Olive Garden soup in my yoga pants at home with my Hulu subscription, because I'm classy like that. Enjoy making your own Zuppa Toscana. Experiment with hot/sweet Italian sausages, different kinds of potatoes, kale, etc. It's always good. Just don't use bacon bits. That's a damn shame. Make some bacon.

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