Monday, September 20, 2010

Zuppa Toscana :: Olive Garden Style (only BETTER)

Do I have any Olive Garden fans here? 
Dumb question, right?

If any of you haven't tried their Zuppa Toscana, your life is not complete.
Or, at least not as delicious or as complete as mine... :)

What makes it so delicious you ask? Well, it could be the juicy chunks of ground Italian sausage, or the melt-in-your-mouth potato slices. Or perhaps it's the creamy, I-could-drink-this-stuff-from-a-glass-because-it-warms-my-cold-exhausted-body-while-simultaneously-warming-my-soul broth?

Oh yeah. And it's a little bit spicy, too. Which, let's be honest, is probably one of the reasons Kirby likes it so much. And the good news? It's super easy to adjust the spicy level according to your own preferences.

And? If I can make it--YOU CAN. It's that easy. :)

Mmmmm... Kinda makes you long for a cold drizzly day, yeah? 
One where you can snuggle up under a handmade quilt with a mug of soup and watch chick flicks all afternoon?
If there are any gentleman readers, please forgive my obvious catering to the ladyfolk...


1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb. ground Italian sausage, mild
(Make sure you get mild! The first time I made this I wasn't paying attention at the grocery store and accidentally got a spicy version--it was hot, hot, HOT! 
The kind I get is usually labeled as "sweet and mild" or something.)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
(I actually put in about 4-5 cloves, but this is what the original recipe called for...)
½ tsp. crushed red pepper, or more to taste
(I usually put in 3/4 to 1 tsp. in ours. Want it more mild? Just add less red pepper!)
2 ½ cup water
2 (14 ½ oz) cans chicken broth
3 cans sliced potatoes
(the original recipe called for 3 large russet potatoes that you chop by hand, but I prefer to shave off 15 minutes of prep time by using canned potatoes. 
If you want to go the un-canned route, increase the simmer time in step 5 to 10-15 minutes.)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ bunch kale, stems removed, chopped
(I don't put kale in when I make it, but it's just my preference...)
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream


1.     Saute sausage in oil. Remove sausage to plate and set aside.
2.     Add onion to pan with sausage grease and oil (you may need to add a little extra oil than the original tablespoon), sauté until translucent. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, cook 1 minute.
3.     In a large pot, combine water and broth; add onion mixture. Add potatoes, salt, and pepper. Heat to boiling.
4.     Reduce heat, simmer about 10 minutes.
5.     Add kale and sausage, simmer until potatoes are tender, about 7-10 minutes.
6.     Stir in cream. Heat to simmer over medium heat, cook 2 minutes.
7. Serve.
YIELDS: 4-6 servings.
It usually feeds me and Kirby for three meals! And it is just as good reheated as it is fresh off the stove!

Not tough at all! I have it down to a system. Here's my actual workflow (as opposed to the recipe's listed order), if anyone even cares. :) Yes, I'm an efficiency freak.

1. Prepare water and chicken broth mixture in large pot and set on medium heat.
2. Saute sausage, remove to plate.
3. Cut up onion, peel garlic, get out my crushed red pepper. 
4. Tip plate with sausage (I keep the sausage from sliding off with my spatula while I do this) over skillet to get all the grease back in the pan that settled from the sausage to use when I saute the onions.
5. Add a little extra oil (just a little) to my pan of grease (YUM).
6. Saute the onions until translucent. 
7. Crush my garlic cloves in my handy dandy garlic press directly into skillet.
8. Add crushed red pepper, and cook 1 minute.
9. Dump onion mixture into pre-warmed pot of chicken broth and water, and then add potatoes, salt, and pepper.
10. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes.
11. Add sausage (and kale, if you choose to do so), and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 7-10 minutes. 
12. Stir in cream. Simmer over medium heat for an additional 2 minutes. 
13. Serve!

This is obviously why I don't write cookbooks for a living. 13 STEPS!? That would scare anyone away! But seriously--I have found that doing things in that order saves me a lot of stress. Cause I do that when I cook. :)


Rachel // Maybe Matilda said...

Oooh, this is my VERY favorite soup! I think I originally got the recipe from you way back when, if I remember right . . . still good :-)

Spencer said...

DEFINITELY need to try this one!

Unknown said...

mmmm! that's the soup that i get every time i go!

Adriane said...

but! where's the kale???


just kidding.


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