Foodie Friday: Zuppa Toscana Soup

Foodie Friday: Zuppa Toscana Soup

Even recognizing that wherever there is an Olive Garden there is probably a better, more authentic Italian restaurant (perhaps several) within a short distance, Olive Garden seems like one of those places everyone loves… even if they’re afraid to admit it.

Yes, the food isn’t The Best, but it’s still usually very good, and the “authenticity” of the food is not something anyone is arguing is their big selling point.

There is something comforting about the consistency.

If you love and always order the Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo, for instance, you can rest easy knowing it will be pretty much the same whether you order it in Pennsylvania or in Oregon, y’know?

Dining at Olive Garden is like getting a degree in popular culture, rather than literature.  But everyone needs a bit of popular culture once in awhile, right?
~ Someone Smart

Beyond that, I think a huge part of the love so many people have for The O.G. (that’s what the kids are calling it these days, I like to tell myself) comes down to three simple words.

Soup.

Salad.

Breadsticks.

Every budget-conscious diner can tell you that you’ll be hard pressed to find a tastier and healthier cheap meal than their all-you-can-eat Soup/Salad/Breadsticks meal.

Someday maybe I’ll share how to make an O.G. salad or (due to what will likely be much higher demand) their divine breadsticks… but for this week I thought I’d share something that I just tried making myself at home for the first time, which is my favorite of the O.G. soups — the sausage/potato/kale based Zuppa Toscana.

It’s surprisingly quick and easy, and I was delighted to find it tasted just like the Real Thing.

Zuppa Toscana Soup (Ripped-Off from Olive Garden)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Italian sausage, mild or spicy, ground or whole.
  • 4-5 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large russet potatoes, washed and sliced into 1/4 inch slices or cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (use more if you like it garlicky!)
  • 2 cups kale, chard, or similar green, chopped
  • 1/2 quart chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Brown sausage and diced bacon in a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high.
  2. Drain fat/oil, reserving about a tablespoon. Remove browned sausage and bacon and set aside (If using whole sausage, allow to drain/cool and cut into slices).
  3. Return reserved fat to the pot, and saute onions until soft.
  4. Add minced garlic, and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  5. Add chicken broth and, using a wooden spoon, scrap up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. That’s flavor!
  6. Add water and potatoes, and cook on medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  7. Add sausage and bacon back into the pot.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Bring to a simmer for about another 10 minutes, then turn heat to low.
  10. Minutes before serving, add kale and cream, and heat through.
  11. Serve with soft breadsticks for dipping, if you got ’em. If not, any tasty bread or rolls will work.
  12. OM NOM NOM NOM.

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