Thursday, January 17, 2013

zuppa toscana

at my last job, we had a group that regularly went to lunch together.  through this group, i tried my first sushi, tested new burger places, and took advantage of lunch specials near and far.  during this enjoyable feasting season, we would often go to olive garden and devour their soup, salad, and bread-sticks deal.  i discovered zuppa toscana for the first time, and fell in love!

when i pinned this recipe, i did so because it reminded me of that soup.  i pinned several others, but this one is the base of my own soup.  i didn't make this soup for our soup tasting night, but it was so yummy, i thought you'd forgive me doing it out of order.  ;-)

note 1: the original recipe calls for this to be made in the crockpot - how lovely!!!  as you'll see, i didn't take advantage of this own crockpot was busy all weekend with other tasks!  i have added a crockpot adaption of my recipe below; please note, i have not tried this specifically.

note 2: this soup is rich.  the cream shines through in its luxurious glory!  at some point, i may play with using some half-and-half or milk in place of the cream - this soup seems as though it could safely lose a little bit of that milk fat without suffering.

note 3: we LOVE this soup.  i went back for seconds even though i was full.  (shame on me!)  when asked, mike gave it a 9 or 10 out of 10.  his previous favorite, chili, came in second to this one!!!  i'll chalk some of that up to novelty, but still claim this one as a winner for us.

note 4: we used yukon gold potatoes, and i highly recommend using these for soups.  they are a very creamy potato, and do better in a broth than baked.  i also noticed that they cooked faster than the baking potatoes i've used.

zuppa toscana

1 1/4 lb spicy italian sausage
4 large or 6 medium yukon gold potatoes (so creamy!)
1 large or 2 medium onions, minced
1 1/2 T minced garlic
2 c frozen kale, chopped
4 c chicken stock
2 c water
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 T salt (optional)

1.  slice potatoes in half, then in 1/4 inch slices.  the potatoes are so soft, it won't matter that the pieces are a little bit large.
2.  brown sausage in large pot.  our sausage was in links; i sliced these open, and crumbled the meat before beginning to brown it.  cook fully.
3.  add onions to sausage; saute until clear or mostly clear.
4.  pour chicken stock and water into pot.  add garlic and potatoes.  bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  continue to simmer until the potatoes are fully cooked, ~10 minutes.  my potatoes did not take long to cook!
5.  use immersion blender to blend soup to desired creaminess - be careful not to lose all of your potato chunks.  alternatively, blend ~1/4 soup in blender, then stir back into the pot.
6.  add heavy whipping cream and kale.  turn up heat to medium high, stirring almost constantly.
7.  taste, and salt if necessary.  my stock has very little salt, so i almost always need to add a little bit.

crockpot aternative

1.  slice potatoes in half, then in 1/4 inch slices.
2.  brown sausage in large pot.  our sausage was in links; i sliced these open, and crumbled the meat before beginning to brown it.  cook fully.
3.  put sausage, chicken stock, water, garlic, potatoes, and onion into your crockpot.  cook on low for 6 hours.
4.  use immersion blender (or traditional blender) to blend a portion of the soup into desired creaminess.
5.  add kale and recover crockpot for 5 minutes.
6.  stir in whipping cream; taste; salt; serve!

let me know how you like this recipe!  also, if you have any tips for where to buy italian sausage that isn't already in link form, please leave me a comment!  i would love to skip the step of cutting open the sausage skins.  :-)

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