Some of you may know that my husband, D, loves to cook. He was so excited when we got a Kitchenaid for our wedding, and he quickly bought the food grinder and sausage stuffer attachments so he could make his own sausage. His first attempt was to make Italian sausage. It was pretty good, but kind of dry. He made so much, we weren’t sure what to do with it, so we put it in the freezer. He has since learned to put in more fat so the sausage isn’t dry, and his more recent homemade sausages are much better. Anyway, last week I had the idea to use up the frozen Italian sausage by making Zuppa Toscana. If you’ve never had Zuppa Toscana, it’s a delicious creamy soup from Olive Garden – but it’s even better homemade! D’s mom has a great copycat recipe that she found online, and we made some tweaks. Making it at home is a special treat, because it requires a lot of ingredients that we don’t usually have on hand: a lot of Italian sausage, bacon, kale, potatoes, onions, chicken broth, and heavy cream. Despite the kale, this is definitely a comfort food, not a healthy one. We already had most of the ingredients, so we bought heavy cream and a bunch of kale at our local grocery co-op and we were set. I was looking forward to it all week! I decided to share the process of making it on my blog, not just because it’s a great recipe, but also for an excuse to use my new camera (Canon EOS Rebel)!

The first step is to brown the sausage. While it is cooking, chop up the potatoes, onion, and garlic. Remove the kale from the ribs and chop that up, too. As you can see in the photo, D cut the potatoes into slivers. Once we ate the soup, we found out the slivers weren’t easy to get in a spoon. I would recommend you chop the potatoes into cubes.

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Next, chop up the bacon. Add the bacon and chopped onion to your pot and cook until the onions are translucent, then add garlic. We used Neuske’s Thick Cut bacon. Normally we wouldn’t splurge on fancy bacon, but one of D’s wonderful friends got us a Neuske’s bacon “subscription” as a wedding gift, and this was one box we got. It’s very thick, so it’s perfect for cooking!

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When the sausage is browned, cut it into slices. We used four links. Add the potatoes to the pot and pour in the chicken broth. We had one jar of homemade chicken broth and one box of store-bought.

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When the potatoes have cooked for a few minutes, add in the kale and sausage and stir it all together. Bring the pot to a boil and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. While it’s cooking, you can slice up a loaf of Italian bread or pour yourself a glass of red wine! This soup is excellent with both. Don’t forget to taste test!

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Finally, turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. When it is all mixed up, the soup should have a nice creamy color. Ladle it into bowls and top with fresh Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

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So now I’ve written one of those irritatingly long posts that you have to scroll through the whole thing to get to the recipe. If you did read the whole post before getting to the recipe, thanks!

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Zuppa Toscana Copycat Recipe from ellebellehabib

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 slice bacon, diced
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups kale cut into 1/16 inch strips
  • 1 pound of hot (aren’t all Italians hot?)Italian sausage, pre-cook and cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

Brown sausage in a pan until fully cooked

Place onions and bacon in saucepan and cook until onions are almost clear. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add chicken broth, potatoes, kale and sausage. Cook until potatoes are tender.  

Stir in whipping cream and remove from heat.