Friday, September 28, 2012

Zuppa toscana

Earlier this week when I told the Hubs that we would be having soup and salad for one night this week he said, "Just so you know, I'm not very excited about that meal. I don't like soup and salad for dinner." Well, that's encouraging. NOT.

Have you ever been to Olive Garden and had their Soup/Salad/Breadstick lunch? The Zuppa Toscana soup is my favorite soup on their menu. Very hearty and filling, tastes like fall, full of sausage, potatoes and kale.

The original recipe may be found here. As always, I made a few minor tweaks, because I see recipes as guidelines and not set in stone. The result was delicious. 

Zuppa Toscana
1 lb mild Italian sausage
4-5 fist sized potatoes, cut in half and then sliced thin; I used potatoes from the garden. They were either Kennebec or Cobbler, I'm not sure which, and the skins were tender enough to leave on.
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz bacon, cut into 1/4" strips, sauteed and drained on paper towels. Reserve the bacon grease.
1 bunch of kale, large ribs and stems removed, and cut into 1/2"-ish slices
32 oz chicken broth
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2 (original recipe called for whipping cream, but I had 1/2 & 1/2 left over still from Shrimp and Grits last week...)

Brown the Italian sausage in a large soup pot. (I used the red Lodge Dutch oven I received for Christmas last year.)
Once browned, add the potatoes, onion, garlic and chicken broth. Cook until the potatoes are tender.
Add the kale, bacon and 1/2 & 1/2 and simmer until the kale is tender. 

 On the side, serve a salad:
Mixed greens
diced bell pepper
some of the bacon that you made for the soup
parmesan cheese
thinly sliced onion sauteed in some of the reserved bacon grease (so much better than raw onion!)
the only salad dressing we have currently is 3-cheese Ranch; we used a little but the salad really didn't need dressing. There was yummy but bad for you bacon grease dripping from the onion...

I also made dinner rolls (frozen, out of a bag). When they were finished baking, I brushed the tops with butter and sprinkled them with garlic powder and sea salt. 

Half way through dinner, the Hubs said "Olive Garden has nothing on you; this is so much better."

I'd say that's success. 

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