Happy mid march friends! I don’t know about you, but I love spring and I love the changes in the air. My allergies are already kicking in and the trees aren’t even in bloom yet. This week is St Patrick’s Day as many of you know. I’m working to better celebrate the holidays and I’ve been struggling with something to cook that is Irish inspired. Last year I made Irish Soda Bread and growing up my mom would always make us a green dinner. When I asked my husband if he had any ideas he said potatoes. Well if you aren’t prepped with corned beef and cabbage and are cramming last minute like me, maybe an Italian dish such as Zuppa Toscana Soup can be justified to be eaten on an Irish holiday-because it has potatoes. If I don’t make green eggs and ham or something like that we may be eating this soup again. On the bright side it is delicious and I’ve got to cram as much soup as I can into these cooler months before it warms up.
I originally made this soup back in my college days when I was cooking my way around the world making dishes from other countries, like this Moroccan dish. I remember that I added so much red pepper to the already spicy Italian sausage that man it was a killer hot soup. This time I toned it down and after asking my mom how she made hers, and looking at a few ideas that were online I came up with a combination that my family enjoyed. I quickly snapped a couple of pictures from my phone and so if my poor lighting turns you away from the soup (I almost didn’t post it just for that reason), give it a chance and try this. Its a hearty soup that will warm your soul.
At our house Zuppa Toscana has affectionately been called ‘Butter Soup’ because of the shine of the soup (however, there is no butter in the soup). Zuppa Toscana may not be the healthiest of my recipes but my once a year indulgence is something I look forward to each year. It is inspired by Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana, so if you want to feel like you are having takeout in your own home make a fresh batch of bread sticks and enjoy. I’ve tried to make this soup slightly healthy and add less sausage and bacon than most people and load up on the potatoes and kale. I absolutely love kale in this soup and suggest that whether you are a kale person or not you give it a try. I even tend to add more than is called for. I love it so much.
Yield: 6 servings
Time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 c pre-cooked bacon bits
- 4 c chicken broth
- 4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/4″ slices
- 1 c half and half
- 2 c chopped kale
- salt and pepper to taste
- Step 1
In a large pot brown spicy Italian sausage. While sausage is cooking chop the onions, mince the garlic, and wash and cut the potatoes into 1/4″ slices. If you are using Yukon gold potoates I leave the skin on, however if you are doing traditional russets I would consider peeling the potatoes before you slice them. Once sausage is cooked remove it from the pan set aside and allow the grease to drain from the sausage.
Add olive oil and onion to the pan and saute until onion is translucent (about 3 minutes), add minced garlic and bacon bits. Saute 1 minute more. Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Once mixture has come to a boil add the potato slices and cook until potatoes are tender (about 10-15 minutes).
Return sausage to the pan, add half and half, chopped kale, and salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture simmer another 3 minutes. Serve warm.
Enjoy this delicious Olive Garden inspired Zuppa Toscana Soup and let me know what you think!