About a year and a half ago, a friend from church taught a group of us how to make a copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana. I loved Lindsey’s version and found it to be a little lighter and probably a whole lot healthier than Olive Garden’s famous soup. Which is good. So for a long time, I made Lindsey’s soup. But a few days ago, I had a craving for something rich and meaty, and something with a little heat on it. I also happened to have everything on hand to make Zuppa Toscana, AND I had three leftover garlic bread sticks from the night before when we had eaten at Olive Garden (but had NOT had the soup), so I got to cooking. This time, I changed it up a little, doubling some of the ingredients and adding a few others. And I really think this fits us better, because it has a little zip to it, and we are a zippy duo.
So I present to you …
- 12 oz hot Italian sausage OR 12 oz regular Italian sausage plus 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 large scoop beef bouillon paste (or 4 cubes beef bouillon)
- 8 medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed clean but not peeled; diced
- 1/2 TBSP granulated garlic
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed, sliced very thin
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- Optional: a cup or two of water (if broth is too rich)
- Garnish: fresh basil, freshly shaved parmesan cheese
- In skillet, brown sausage until cooked through. Drain sausage on paper towel to absorb some of the grease.
- In same skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove to a plate to cool, then crumble in small pieces. Don't pour out the bacon grease!
- Fry onions in bacon grease until translucent. Add minced garlic for the last few minutes.
- Transfer sausage, crumbled bacon, and onions and garlic to a soup pot.
- Add chicken broth, beef bouillon, and diced potatoes.
- Cook on medium heat for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Taste and season with granulated garlic, salt and pepper.
- Add kale and cook 15 minutes more.
- Take a small amount of broth out of the soup pot and add to the cream to temper it. Add cream back to pot and warm through.
- Just before serving, mash about 1/3 of the potatoes to thicken the soup.
- Optional: just before serving, add about a cup of fresh minced basil to the pot.
- Serve with shaved parmesan cheese and warm bread sticks.
- CROCK POT INSTRUCTIONS
- If using a crock pot, follow instructions above up to the kale. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4 hours. Add kale 30 minutes before you want to serve the soup, then add the cream during the last five minutes of cooking. Mash some of the potatoes to thicken the soup; serve.