We’re making my “world famous” (yeah right) Zuppa Toscana soup (like you get at Olive Garden) for my friends lunch tomorrow. Zuppa Toscana, “zuppa” means soup in Italian. “Toscana” refers to the Tuscany region of Italy. Therefore, “Zuppa Toscana” translates to “Tuscan soup” or “Tuscan-style soup.” Traditionally, this soup is made with lots of Italian sausage, veggies, beans, potatoes, olive oil, spices, and Italian bacon. My recipe is similar except in my version I use low-fat turkey sausage. The only things I cannot add tonight are the kale and the heavy whipping cream. They have to be added tomorrow one hour before lunch. This soup is naturally gluten free and grain free. If you need a dairy-free soup, I suggest you substitute the solid white cream portion of a 1 can of full fat unsweetened coconut milk. Add it at the very end just to heat through.
I’ve eaten pretty healthy most of my adult life and really got serious about 15 years ago. You can eat a tasty fun diet that supports your body and health and not feel deprived. My use of sausage, bacon and ham is limited due to the high sodium and fat content, and I always look for healthy alternatives, such as uncured ham or bacon and chicken & turkey based products. An occasional BLT or sausage dish rewards me and I don’t feel deprived while the majority of my diet includes lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Today I’m trying low-fat turkey sausage and chicken bacon. (BTW the chicken bacon is delicious. I think it’s much better than turkey bacon.) According to Live Strong, turkey sausage has half the calories of pork with 1/3 the fat. Sodium is only slightly less. If you have to have the pork flavor, I suggest you do some research by checking out the labels for a lower fat version. My choice would be Johnsonville mild Italian links. No, this is not a sponsored post, but it has great flavor and lower fat and sodium with no MSG. Reading labels in the store is an absolute necessity when shopping for food.
Let’s Make It!
Start with 1 pound of Italian sausage either mild or spicy according to your taste buds. Cut casing and remove sausage. Brown, drain the fat, and start adding all the goodies.
First add onion and brown. Then add potatoes, broth, and water.
Zuppa Toscana is a tasty soup that is a great choice for a pot-luck supper with your coworkers or church group. As I mentioned earlier, make the soup up to this point the night before. Put it in the refrigerator. Take to the event in a crock pot. Add the kale and cream an hour before serving and turn on high. Soup’s ready!
If you wish to serve it at a party, buy a large round crusty bread at the bakery. Cut a circle in the top of the bread. Remove circle and scoop out bread forming a bread bowl. Fill with soup and place as centerpiece on the table with grated Parmigiana cheese as an optional topping.
ZUPPA TOSCANA SOUP serves 8
Zuppa Toscana Soup
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 4 slices cooked uncured or chicken bacon chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 cups kale, washed and roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional serve in bread bowls
- Optional top with parmigiana grated cheese
- Slit casings and remove sausage meat
- Saute Italian sausage with red pepper flakes about 5 minutes
- Drain excess fat
- Add onions, garlic, salt, & pepper to sausage
- Cook until onions are clear about 5 minutes
- Slowly add chicken broth & water and bring to a boil
- Add potatoes, lower heat and cook about 15 minutes until potatoes are soft
- Add kale and cooked bacon and bring to boil
- Reduce heat to lowest setting
- Slowly stir in heavy cream
- Cook 5 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste
- Remove from heat
- Optional garnish with grated parmesan cheese
- Serve hot with a baguette, rolls, or crusty bread and a green salad
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