My mom and I have always loved Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup. We’d both always order it, and sit there trying to figure out what was in it and how they made it. Last year I was lucky enough to come really close, and tonight I figured it out completely. Mom, you should be proud. 🙂
It’s a light but filling soup with sausage, potatoes, and kale, with a little bit of spice (or more, depending on what kind of sausage you use).
- 2 sausage, casings removed (I used chicken sausage with apple tonight, but almost anything would work – spicy Italian sausage, smoked turkey, sweet maple – anything)
- 1 large potato (red potatoes are even better, but I won’t have any until later in the year)
- chicken stock to cover
- large handful kale, rinsed well (strip the stems from the leaves, discard the stems)
- pinch red pepper flakes
- milk (prob 1/2 C to 1 C)
- 1 T secret ingredient, explained below
Saute sausage in a bit of olive oil, breaking it up with a spoon. Add the potato and saute in the oil for a few minutes, then cover with chicken stock. Simmer 15 minutes or so until the potatoes are nearly tender, then slice the kale into thin ribbons and add that as well. Simmer, stirring often to help wilt the kale, until the kale is tender, 10 minutes or so. Add milk and secret ingredient, and heat, but don’t boil.
So that was the recipe I discovered/adapted last year, and it was really really close. But something was still missing with the texture, the broth, something. Tonight I figured it out, and the secret is a tablespoon of instant mashed potato flakes. (I keep them on hand for baking bread, don’t judge!) Adding mashed potato flakes gives the broth just enough body, and makes it absolutely perfect.
We also had mini quesadillas tonight with goat cheese from the farmer’s market and an avocado, which had to be used up because it was at the perfect stage of ripeness. I discovered goat cheese and avocado quesadillas at a fantastic restaurant in South Boston, Virginia, down on the North Carolina border, called Bistro 1888, and I was instantly hooked, since they’re two of my favorite foods.