Anyone who knows me well knows that I favor indie restaurants over most chains. The one chain restaurant I do like a lot is the Olive Garden, and one of my favorite things on their menu is the Zuppa Toscana. It's got a creamy base and a nice kick from the spicy Italian sausage that's in it. A few weeks ago, I was seriously craving this dish, so we took a spin over to OG and had lunch.
As I was enjoying my soup, I was thinking to myself, "I could make this!". Really, the ingredients don't seem complicated: potatoes, sausage, and some type of leafy green . . . spinach maybe? I made it my mission to find a recipe that was as close as possible to this delicious soup.
I had no problem finding copycat recipes on the web. They all seemed very similar to one another, which told me that I was probably close to finding the real deal. Each claimed to taste "exactly like" the Zuppa Toscana found at Olive Garden. I picked the one that suited me best and gave it a whirl.
The outcome was fabulous!! Kid you not, it tastes just like the soup at OG (maybe even better). Serve it with crusty bread and it makes a tasty lunch or dinner. I love it, and I plan to make it often ~ well, in between trips to the restaurant, anyway.
1 lb Italian Sausage (I used half mild and half spicy, to give it that "kick")
2 large Russet potatoes, sliced into thin cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 of a 3 oz. jar of real bacon bits
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups kale or Swiss chard, chopped
2 cans chicken broth
1 quart water (equal to about 4 cups)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1. Cook sausage in a 300°F oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until done.
2. Drain sausages on paper towels and cut into slices.
3. Place onions, potatoes, chicken broth, water, and garlic in pot. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done (approx. 30 mins). If you prefer, you can saute the onions and garlic in a little bit of butter or EVOO to "sweat" them out before you add the other stuff.
4. Add sausage and bacon bits.
5. Salt and pepper to taste.
6. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
7. Turn to low heat.
8. Add kale and cream.
9. Heat through and serve.
Total cook time: Approx. 1.5 hours