Friday, November 22, 2013

Zuppa Toscana - Best Soup EVER

When I have lots going on, I always sink into a rut when it comes to meals.  I've been in a serious rut.  Even though I still have too much going on, I'm trying new recipes.  This soup recipe is one of my most successful, rut-demolishing experiments ever.

I have meals that I like to cook often - my Go-To meals.  I have meals that I cook once in a while.  This soup went straight to the GO-TO group.  Hubby and I were both "bowled" over!

CREDIT - I'd love to give credit to whoever originated the recipe.  I'd love to give credit to whoever took this beautiful photo.  I can't find the sources.  The recipe is all over the web and so is the photo.  If anyone knows the true source, please let me know.  I'd love to give them credit.

I modified this soup a bit to work around my food issues.  All notes about that are at the end of this post.

Zuppa Toscana

  • 1 lb. Italian sausages (use spicy to get that signature Olive Garden flavor) - I reduced this by half.
  • 4-6 russet potatoes, chopped 
  • ¼ c. REAL bacon pieces  - I reduced this by half.
  • 32 oz. chicken broth  - I used a little chicken broth and a little vegetable broth.
  • 1 c. kale or Swiss chard, chopped 
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream  - Looking for a dairy-free alternative.
  • 2 Tbsp flour 
  • chopped 1 onion, 2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves)  - I omitted this!

  1. Brown sausage links in a sauté pan. 
  2. Cut links in half lengthwise, then cut slices. 
  3. Place sausage, chicken broth, garlic, potatoes and onion in slow cooker. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables and meat. Note: Be very careful about liquids - too much and the soup will turn out too thin.
  4. Cook on high 3-4 hours (low 5-6 hours) until potatoes are soft. 
  5. 30 minutes before serving:    Mix flour into cream removing lumps. 
  6. Add cream and kale to the crock pot, stir. 
  7. Cook on high 30 minutes or until broth thickens slightly. 8. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. BEST. SOUP. EVER!!!!


I have all sorts of food issues so I made some changes.  It was still awesome!  I'm sure that the soup with no modifications would be even tastier.  I can't even imagine.

I love onions and garlic but they don't like me.  I omitted these and still the recipe was out of this world.

I can't handle gluten, so I used gluten-free flour.

Dairy and I have a love-hate relationship as well.  I can tolerate some hard cheeses, but I generally avoid dairy.    However, I happened to have a carton of whipping cream on hand that I had planned to use to make real whipped cream for a special occasion.  I threw caution to the wind and used it just like the recipe called for.  I paid for it!  The next time I make this, I plan to try plain, unsweetened almond milk.  I know the soup will lose some creaminess so I may have to do a little more tweaking to compensate.  Anyone have any ideas?  Butter, in moderation, doesn't keep me walking the floors, but I'd love to find a lactose-friendlier alternative for this soup.

Also, I didn't use as much meat as this recipe called for.  I prefer to use meat like a condiment - enough for flavor.  I pretty much halved it and it still had plenty of flavor.I cooked a whole package of bacon - baked it in the oven.  It was my first time trying that method and it was great!  I cooked the entire package of sausage - a slightly healthier, natural, uncured brand.  I used a little of each in this recipe and froze the rest.

Hubby was very suspicious of the kale.  I am known for modifying recipes to make them healthier. Sometimes, that doesn't turn out so well.  I assured him it was in the original recipe and he ended up loving it. Don't leave out the greens! Sadly, it's about the only healthy thing in this soup.  


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