Zuppa Toscana Soup

At the Olive Garden, one of my favorite dishes is their Zuppa Toscana soup. It is creamy, warm and quite scrumptious. After I got hooked on this soup several years ago, I was very pleased to find a recipe online that allowed me to closely mimic the bliss that tickled my taste buds every time I order it at the Olive Garden. Unfortunately, it has been so long since I found the recipe that I have since lost the original and cannot give credit where it is due. I’m still confident that you will enjoy the recipe, regardless of lack of original sourcing.

I’ll share with you the recipe as I have it written down from the original source. At the end, I will share with you how I have altered the recipe to our liking. (If you haven’t already discovered, I rarely keep a recipe exactly as it was written. The first time? Sure! But after that, all bets are off!)

Doesn’t that look wonderful? Ready for the recipe? Here we go…

What you’ll need:

  • 12 spicy sausage links
  • 3/4 cup of diced onions
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of chicken base
  • 1 quart of water
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 cups of kale leaves, cut in half and then sliced
  • 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream

How to put it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
  • Place sausage links onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until well done. Cut them in half lengthwise and then cut at an angle into 1/2″ slices.
  • Place onions and bacon in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until onions are almost clear. Remove bacon and crumble.
  • Add garlic to the onions and cook and additional 1 minute.
  • Add chicken base, water and potatoes; simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add crumbled bacon, sausage, kale and cream.
  • Simmer for 4 minutes and serve.

Some of the things that I have changed in my typical soup:

  • Instead of sausage links, I tend to use a pound of ground sausage. I just cook it up in a saute pan and drain off all the fat before adding it to the soup.
  • I also usually cook it in a stock pot instead of a saucepan…just to give me a little more room to work.
  • Bacon sometimes gets added and sometimes doesn’t. It depends on my mood of the day. I really don’t think you’ll miss it if it’s not there. I don’t.
  • Because I cook my sausage in a saute pan before adding it to the soup, I often saute my onions and garlic in there as well. It adds a little sausage flavor to the onions, specifically.
  • I don’t use chicken base, mostly because I never have it. Instead, I use 2 cups of chicken broth (yes, that’s half of what it calls for…continue reading…).
  • I half the liquid because I don’t add any kale. Personal preference. Jon and I don’t like it.
  • Last, but not least, 2 potatoes? Really? We are a bit of a potato-holic family (or at least I am, and Jon just deals with it). As a result, I add several more than just the 2 potatoes that the recipe calls for. I’ve done this recipe with both peeled and unpeeled potatoes. Both are great!

Sounds easy enough, right? It really is. If it sounds complicated, don’t let it frighten you. You can easily put it together and make a delicious dinner for your family! I have confidence in you! Have confidence in yourself when it comes to the kitchen. You never know what you’ll be able to create with the right tools, ingredients and, most importantly, confidence. Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out!