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Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

creamy soup with kale, potatoes, bacon and sausage in a square white soup bowl on a blue and white stripped mat

When fall comes around I could literally eat soup every day for dinner because there are plenty of amazing flavors to choose from.  This soup is inspired by the Zuppa Toscana soup from Olive Garden.  It is chock-full of Italian sausage, bacon, potatoes and kale, flavored with onion and garlic, and finished with heavy cream at the end.  It's hearty, creamy and delicious you will want this on your regular dinner menu every week!  I would even go as far as to say that this tastes better than the original!

A couple of tips for this recipe:
  • When cooking bacon for this soup, I cut the bacon in to little strips first, (a few slices at a time), then throw them all in the frying pan and break up the pieces from each other as they cook.  They cook beautifully this way, but you can also bake it in the oven or cook it by the slice too - whatever you are comfortable with.
  • You can use mild or hot sausage.  I usually use the mild and then add some red pepper flakes for spice.  (Start with a 1/2 tsp and if you want it spicier you can add more next time!)
  • I've done potatoes in slices and chunks, but prefer the slices like the original - it works either way though.  I usually give them a good scrub before cutting, then leave the skins on - again, personal preference here.  If you don't like the skins, peel them first!
  • To prepare the kale, remove the leaves from the thick stems and discard the stems, then place the leaves in a big bowl of clean water and plunge them to give them a good wash.  After they are properly cleaned, chop them up in to bite size pieces! 
Ingredients:
  • 12oz bacon, fried and chopped up
  • 16oz Italian sausage (mild)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced finely
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 medium potatoes, sliced thinly. (I sliced lengthwise in half then thinly sliced each half.)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups kale leaves, (rinsed well and chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes, (optional)
Directions:
  1. Cook the bacon nice and crisp, drain and cool on paper towels, then chop in to small pieces.  (Or chop before cooking - whichever you like.)  Set aside
  2. In a large 6qt stock pot, brown the Italian sausage. 
  3. Remove sausage from stock pot and put to the side with the bacon, but leave the little bit of sausage fat in the pan. 
  4. Sauté chopped onion, garlic and sliced potatoes on med-high heat in the sausage fat, tossing frequently until the onions are starting to get soft and translucent and the potatoes are starting to cook through. 
  5. Add the bacon pieces, Italian sausage, chicken broth and water back in to the pan. 
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly and let simmer 20 mins or so until  the potatoes are almost cooked through.
  7. Add the cream, kale, salt & pepper, (plus optional red pepper flakes.) 
  8. Turn heat to med-low and let simmer for and additional 10-15 minutes or until kale is at desired consistency.
Serve with hot crusty bread or breadsticks!  (This breadstick recipe is delicious if you want to try making your own at home!)

creamy soup with italian sausage, bacon, potatoes and kale in a square white soup bowl on a red mat

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