Sunday, June 28, 2009

Zuppa Toscana - The At Home Version!

Last Saturday afternoon the girls and I went to The Olive Garden for lunch and - for probably the 12th time - I said that if I could just find a recipe for it, I'd make my favorite Zuppa Toscana soup at home so that we could have it more often. Amanda likes it just as much as I do so I finally went in search of a recipe online.

Turns out there were quite a few from which to choose but none of them sounded 'quite right' as I couldn't for the life of me remember there being bacon in the soup. However, every recipe I looked at called for bacon in varying amounts so I figured that had to be right, right? I ended up using a little of this and a little of that from each of the recipes that I found and eventually ended up with my own recipe of sorts. When I made the soup I doubled the recipe as the way I look at it you can never have enough Zuppa Toscana and I knew Amanda would be looking for leftovers if it came out as well as the soup we love at The Olive Garden.

If you'd like to try it, the recipe I used was:
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of chicken broth
  • 4 medium-size russet potatoes
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1-1/2 to 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 pieces of cooked crisp bacon, diced
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage
  • 3 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

  • Cook the Italian sausage, crumbling it as you go (I used the non-link variety); drain and set aside.
  • Lightly saute the onion in the same pan you just cooked the sausage in until soft.
  • In a large pot, add water, chicken broth, garlic, sauteed onions, and potatoes; cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  • Add cooked sausage and cooked diced bacon to the pot and let simmer for another ten minutes.
  • Add kale and heavy cream to pot; season with salt & pepper; heat for about 5 to 10 minutes; serve to rave reviews!
This was my finished product and Amanda declared it to be exactly like the soup at The Olive Garden; the only things missing were the grated Romano cheese on top and the breadsticks! Because Amanda dislikes onions almost as much as she dislikes needles, after sauteing the onions I put them through my mini-food processor so Amanda couldn't see them floating in her soup and she never even knew they were there until I told her after she'd eaten her first bowl-full!

Unfortunately Jamie didn't much care for the soup as she thought it was a little too spicy for her tastebuds and she's also not much of an Italian sausage fan but I thought it actually came out pretty close to the real thing. I think the next time I make it, I'm actually going to throw in a couple extra potatoes and see how it comes out and I might toss in another handful of kale, too, but other than that I'm going to give myself a pat on the back and call it buon abbastanza rammendato per una prima prova!*

*pretty darned good for a first try!


  1. Oh, baby! I've got to try this! I love all The Olive Garden soups!

  2. I love zuppa toscana....did you look at the Olive Garden website? they post several of their recipies there....

  3. you know what i would do? mash one potato to thicken it a bit. it looks wonderful!

    smiles, bee

  4. Oh boy... dig in!!! Great job, Linda!!

  5. Looks yummy!

    Also Italian Sausage reminds me of Andrew and his love for it, hehe :)

  6. very yum! I've never had the Olive Garden version...but I might have to try yours!

  7. That looks delish! Why Can't I find dishes like this?

  8. I've never heard of it before but it looks and sounds deeeelish!

  9. Anonymous6:22 PM EDT

    I'm going to try to make it, just as soon as we have another chilly day.

  10. Anonymous8:20 AM EDT

    Ok, now I gotta wipe off the drool from my desk! LOL.

    That looks sooooooooo delish!

  11. One of my fave soups :o) Even though I don't like spicy food, this is one thing I can eat. Maybe I should try a version with mild sausage instead...

  12. you think i could substitute spinach for the kale?

  13. You gotta have onions in soups! I'd finely chop celery and add it too, to the consternation of a few people I know...actually, hot sausage here is fine, the cream should add a bit of sweetness to the heat - although to a youngster not used to spice, it might not seem so!

  14. Soups are one of my favorite meals and one of the few things I enjoy cooking. Yours looks amazing. I just ate at Olive Garden Saturday for dinner. Love their food.

  15. Anonymous3:45 PM EDT

    I'm making this right this very minute... I'm adding a tad of celery and some carrot to mine. I'm also using some mild italian sausage... and lightening it with half and half instead of heavy cream.


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