When I think of Olive Garden, I think of one thing: Zuppa Toscana. It is one of my favorite soups and the thing I look forward to most when I eat there. I usually order an entree, but hardly touch it because I’ve already downed two bowls of this stuff along with a basket of breadsticks. It’s a meal in itself.
As the days are getting colder, I thought this would be the perfect soup to warm up with. The soup itself is a blend of spicy italian sausage, potatoes, and kale, in a creamy broth. I was lucky enough to find a copycat recipe and it turned out exactly the same. I was amazed. Now, if I could only get the recipe for Olive Garden breadsticks…
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
- 1 pound mild Italian ground sausage
- 5 slices bacon, baked and crumbled
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 5 (13.75 oz) cans chicken broth
- 3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced rounds
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 bunch fresh kale
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Cook the ground Italian sausage in a pan over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink. About 10 to 15 min. Drain and set aside.
- Place bacon on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until crisp, about 10 minutes. Place bacon on paper towel to drain and then crumble bacon and set aside. You may save a couple tablespoons of the bacon drippings and use it to saute the onions and garlic.
- In a large pot saute onions and garlic in a couple tablespoons of the bacon drippings or oil(whichever you prefer). Cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the chicken broth into the pot with the onion mixture and add crumbled bacon. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the sliced potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream cooked sausage, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper flakes; heat through. Add salt and pepper if needed. Mix kale into the soup until wilted just before serving.