I love Olive Garden. I know it’s not a popular thing to say, everyone will tell you that it’s not authentic Italian, and really… I don’t care. If I want authentic Italian, I’m not going to a chain, I’m going to a small local place. If I want Italian-esque foods, I pretty much just want cheese and pasta and savory flavors, and we’re going to go to Olive Garden because it’s predictable and consistent. Anyway, I always, always get the salad. Recently, we didn’t feel like dining in, so we ordered takeout, and I decided to try their Zuppa Toscana instead. I didn’t even get to it the night we ordered, because we also got calamari (I LOVE CALAMARI!) and I was so excited about my entree that I forgot about my soup until the next day. When I finally got to it, even re-heated the next day, I was blown away. It’s delicious! And I could pretty easily pick out most of the flavor components, so I knew I’d be making my own sometime soon.
Yesterday morning, while we were attempting to have a lazy Sunday morning snuggle in bed (because while Lyric was ready to get up and start her day, Ian and I were not as inclined to begin ours) Lyric accidentally smashed her head into my face. HARD. Hard enough that I had to run to the bathroom to make sure all my teeth were still there. They are, but my two front teeth are experiencing a sensation that I haven’t felt since I had braces as a teenager; the best way I can describe the feeling is not loose, but a little insecure. So, I decided it was a good night for soup for supper. (I initially wanted tacos, then realized I wasn’t going to be able to eat tacos, and I was sad.)
I checked a few “copycat” recipes online just to double-check my own mental shopping list and found that they were all pretty close to what I had in my head, and I decided I was okay to wing it. The result was so good that I burned my tongue several times tasting it before it was ready to serve, and it earned effusive praise from Ian, who isn’t exactly a soup guy. (He does tend to wax rhapsodic about the soups I make when I do make them, but I think he’s biased.) He did say he thought it could benefit from a touch of MSG, but he just loves MSG. While this is a delicious soup and I’ll definitely make it again soon, it doesn’t mean Olive Garden is going to lose any business from me! They will still get my “don’t feel like cooking, want something comforting and cheesy and pizza isn’t going to cut it” business.
Tuscan Kale & Sausage Soup
- 1 lb ground pork sausage
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 32-oz containers of chicken broth
- 1/2 lb kale (stems removed)
- 1 onion, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 slices of bacon, chopped
- 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 cup half & half
Place potatoes and chicken broth in a soup pot and bring to a boil. In a frying pan, render down chopped bacon. At this time, add the kale to the chicken broth and potatoes. Add the onion and garlic to the frying pan, and when those have softened and become fragrant, add the sausage and red pepper flakes. Cook until browned, breaking up into small pieces. Add to the pot and continue to simmer until potatoes begin to break down. Turn off heat and add half & half. Serve hot, preferably with crusty bread and butter. (We didn’t have any last night, but now I really want some to go with the leftovers.)