Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Zuppa Toscana

The last time we were at The Olive Garden restaurant, Randy and I decided to order the soup and salad lunch (with unlimited breadsticks, of course).

As I tried to order my Pasta e Fagoli soup, the waitress burst into laughter.

"The what?" she asked.

I didn't think I was that bad. Evidently, I've forgotten everything I ever learned in Italian diction class in the vocal department of Kansas State University.

It's a good thing I didn't try to order Randy's choice, the Zuppa Toscana. I should learn from him and just point at the menu when ordering.

I guess I'm a better soup maker than soup pronouncer. When I saw this recipe for a copycat version of Zuppa Toscana on Facebook, I knew I wanted to try it. Since we still aren't experiencing spring weather this week, it was the perfect lunch - even without the fancy bread sticks. (I did pull some cornbread out of the freezer.)

It's not the most beautiful soup you'll ever eat. But it is really tasty. Guaranteed.
Zuppa Toscana
(Copycat version of The Olive Garden recipe)
Modified from a CrockPot recipe on Facebook
1 lb. Italian sausage
4 to 6 russet potatoes, chopped (depending on size)
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
32 oz. chicken broth
1 cup kale or Swiss chard, chopped
1 cup half-and-half
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup real bacon pieces, chopped
Additional bacon to garnish (opt.)

Brown sausage and onion in skillet until sausage is lightly browned and onion is tender. Drain off fat. Put meat and onion mixture in stockpot. Add chicken broth, garlic and chopped potatoes. Cook on medium heat until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy.

Put half and half and flour in a jar, cover and shake to combine, making sure there are no lumps. Pour into the hot sausage-potato mixture. Add kale and bacon. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until broth thickens slightly. You may add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. (I didn't add any additional seasonings. The sausage was spicy enough for us. The bacon and sausage provided enough salt for our taste.)

If desired, sprinkle a little additional bacon on top of each serving for a little more color. Serve with colorful fresh veggies, crackers, pickles or whatever you like with soup.

I've made the Copycat Pasta e Fagioli Soup several times, too. It makes a huge amount, so you'll either need to be serving a bunch of people or plan to put some in the freezer.
I'm linked today to Wake Up Wednesdays, a recipe link-up on Wichita blogger Ashley's Kitchen Meets Girl. Click on the link for more recipes from food bloggers across the country.

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