Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Zuppa Toscana - An Olive Garden Remake

I don't go to Olive Garden very often, but when I do, I always seem to order soup. You might ask why, considering all the other things they have on their menu, but I just love the soup. Soup. Salad. Breadsticks. What could be better? My bestest girlfriend Andrea and I go here every so often to catch up, have girl talk and have our favorite soup - chicken gnocchi. I always get this soup, but the last time we went, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try the zuppa toscana. This soup was different, but so delicious. It had Italian sausage, kale and potatoes. There was a light broth with a splash of cream and a kick of hot flavor from red pepper flakes. Doesn't that sound fantastic? 

This soup is super flavorful and is super quick to make - about 30 minutes! This recipe called for one pound of Italian sausage, but I decided to try to cut back the fat and calories and use Sicilian chicken sausage from Trader Joes (it's SO good). You can of course use turkey Italian sausage, or the real thing. Whatever you have or whatever sounds good that day. Picking out which type of sausage to use might be the hardest part of making this soup. All you do is brown the sausage (casings removed), then the onion, then the garlic and pepper flakes. Add the wine, broth and then everything else back into the pot and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. That easy and quick. Perfect for a quick dinner after a long day at work or a quick dinner on the weekend. It does have a spicy kick to it, so if you or someone you are making this for isn't a fan of that tingle on your tounge, use half of the amount or just a sprinkle to start. You can always add more, but you can't take the heat away!

yes, that is my glass of wine. the cook always has a glass of wine while cooking!

browned sausage

onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. what a heavenly smell.

adding the wine - steam shot!

adding the kale. always looking for more ways to use kale!

simmer simmer boil boil

served with homemade croutons!

Zuppa Toscana (slightly adapted from

1 lb. Italian sausage (or half regular, half turkey sausage)
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine to deglaze the pan
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 russett potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
2 cups fresh kale, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
2.5 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream (or more if you like)
Salt and pepper
Place a large pot on the stove over medium heat.  Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook until well browned.  Remove the cooked sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl; set aside.  Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for a minute more, just until fragrant.  Add the wine to the pot and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits.  Add the potatoes, kale, chicken broth and water to the pot.   Return the sausage to the pot.  Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer on medium-low.  Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and cooked through.  Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

This soup is great by itself, but even better with homemade croutons to absorb all that yummy liquid! That and a glass (or two!) of pinot grigo and you are set.


  1. Wow, this is deja-vu all over. When B-B and I go to lunch at Olive Garden we always do the soup and salad. She always orders the chicken gnocchi and I always order zuppa toscana. I want the soup to be spicy, that's what it's all about. No wimpy chicken and turkey substitutes ever. :) The more spicy meat the better. So I will have to try your recipe and add some different hot Italian sausage and cut down on the kale ... green, yyyyyccccchhhhh. :) Croutons maybe, but it needs a generous topping on cheese from those strange Parmesians.

  2. I love their soup, but I thought they put kale in the one they make at olive garden. Maybe you pick it out? :) Ryan thought this one was a little spicy, but he still ate it anyways - with like 1,000 croutons!