So when I left the house this morning I was pretty sure I was going to need Noah’s Ark. We were in the middle of a flash flood with rivers flowing through our neighbor in Holly Springs, North Carolina. A cold front was beginning to move through (thank you Jesus it has been so humid the last few days) causing major rain and flooding. With total rainfall of 8 inches, today was a crazy mess and after running in and out of storm, by the end of the day I was soaking wet, cold and hungry. And all I could think was I would love a big bowl of hot soup.
One of my favorite soups is Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana Soup. But did you know that even though Zuppa Toscana translates to Tuscan soup, it is not a traditional Tuscan soup. Olive Garden named this soup and through the years it has become extremely popular. Even though I love to eat this soup when I visit Olive Garden, I have found that when you make it at home it is so much better. Zuppa Toscana soup is a creamy soup with sweet Italian sausage, bacon, tender potatoes, garlic, sweet onion and kale to top it off. Add a little shaved parmesan and crumbled bacon and your tummy will be singing songs of praise.
With Zuppa Toscana Soup running through my head I knew I had sausage, bacon and heavy cream in the fridge, onions and potatoes in the pantry and was only missing the kale. So with a quick stop at Harris Teeter, and another opportunity to get soaking wet one more time, I was on my way home to make soup. And what a perfect day for it. That thought was confirmed when I called my daughter, Holly, and said I think I am going to make Zuppa Toscana Soup and her first remark was “today is a perfect day for soup”. In case you don’t know I live with my daughter’s and rotate houses every other week so I get to cook for the two families on a regular basis. This soup is also Holly and her husband, Reed, favorite soups. It is also my other daughter, Amanda and her husband, David’s, favorite and normally I would call them to come by and pick up a container full of soup to go but with the heavy rainfall, I really did not want them on the roads. (Sorry Amanda and David).
Can I tell you we all enjoyed a big bowl of warm soup while listening to the rain that was still continuing to fall. I love to serve this soup with a nice loaf of fresh bread. If it was not raining so hard I would have probably run by Stick Boy Bread Company in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina and picked up a loaf of their Old World Sourdough bread but for tonight we skipped the bread which was definitely better for us anyway.
Aunt Pam’s Copycat Zuppa Toscana SoupCourse: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Homemade Zuppa Toscana is a creamy soup loaded with Italian sausage, bacon, kale and potatoes.
6 pieces of bacon, chopped
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
6 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 medium sweet onion, finely dined
6 cups of chicken stock/broth (48 ounces)
5 medium russet potatoes, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (I leave the skins on but you can peel them if you prefer)
1 bundle of kale leaves, stripped and chopped
2 cups of whipping cream
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of Italian herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Shaved parmesan as garnish, optional
- In a large pot or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add chopped bacon and sauté until browned (5-7 mins). Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and spoon out excess oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot.
- Add sweet Italian sausage, breaking it up with your spatula and sauté until cooked through about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towel lined plate.
- Add finely diced sweet onion to the pot and sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft and golden then add minced garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Add 6 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups water, and bring to boil. Add sliced potatoes and cook 13-14 min or until easily pierced with a fork.
- When potatoes are nearly done, add chopped kale, Italian herbs and cooked sausage and bring everything to a light boil.
- Stir in 2 cups whipping cream and bring to boil. Season to taste with salt and black pepper then remove from heat. Garnish with bacon and grated parmesan.
- To me this soup actually tastes better the next day when al the ingredients have an opportunity to fuse together.