There are a number of recipes out there that try to duplicate Olive Garden's "Zuppa Toscana" appetizer soup but they usually call for artificial ingredients or seriously lack in flavor. With or without the addition of chopped kale leaves this all-natural and economical family dish is chock full of traditional flavors and is nearly identical to Olive Garden's signature dish. Hint: To reduce the fat content of this soup make sure to remove the kale leaves before serving; they absorb grease.
- 3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
- 9 cups water
- 3 -5 pieces bacon
- 1 lb Italian sausage, loose-ground
- 4 large russet potatoes, skin-on and cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2⁄3 cup half-and-half
- 1⁄2-1 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 1⁄2-1 tablespoon black pepper (to taste)
- 1⁄2-1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon mustard powder, ground
- 1⁄4-1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seed, ground (optional)
- 2 cups kale leaves, chopped (optional)
- In a large stock pot combine the water, chicken broth, salt, and potatoes and set to a low boil.
- In a separate pan fry up the bacon until slightly crispy and set aside; save the bacon grease.
- In the same pan used to cook the bacon add the Italian sausage, onion, and olive oil and simmer on low until the sausage is browned and the consistency of hamburger.
- Chop the bacon into small shreds (use a specialty mincer or food processor to save time) and add to the cooked sausage, then add everything into the soup pot.
- Mix the garlic, powders, and half-and-half into the soup pot and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- 5 Minutes before serving mix in the chopped kale leaves.