Thursday, April 14, 2011

Zuppa Toscana Soup

We don’t eat out very often. But when we do, somehow our out-of-town guests always want to eat at “the best Italian restaurant” in town. And no, we’re not talking about the now-closed Mama Jo’s. We’re talking about Olive Garden. I’d hardly call it the best Italian restaurant in town but I guess because there isn’t one where they live, they always want to go there when they visit.

Although the Olive Garden may not have the best pasta in town, it does have one of my favorite soups – Zuppa Toscana. This is a copycat version with spicy Italian sausage, bacon, cream and kale. What’s not to love? You’ll love the robust flavors and the big meat chunks. Serve with good, crusty bread (dunking is part of the fun!) and you’ll realize this may even be better than the real deal. Bon appétit!

Zuppa Toscana Soup
Serves 8

1 pound Italian sausage
1 ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large white onion, diced
4 slices bacon chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups Water
1 cup Heavy cream
3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups Kale, washed and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium skillet, sauté the Italian sausage with the red pepper flakes. Drain excess fat, set aside.

In a large soup pot, sauté the bacon. When the bacon is halfway cooked, add the onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are tender-about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until soft, about 30 minutes. Add in the heavy cream and sausage and cook until the soup is heated. Stir in the chopped kale. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

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