Zuppa Toscana

Its official, I’m in love with this soup and I have been for years. A former co worker and I would make weekly visits to a certain restaurant just for this one dish. But this week I didn’t feel like leaving my house, well more like I didn’t feel like leaving my yoga pants, so I decided to make my own version. And I’ll be darned if it wasn’t as good or even better! For me there aren’t many things better then some warm toasty bread and a good soup to dunk it in. And this one just so happens to bring together everything I love in one big bowl. Potatoes, bacon, heavy cream and enough veggies to make you think it’s good for you. It’s important to mention that this makes a LOT of soup but no worries, it freezes beautifully. So with cooler temperatures looming do yourself a favor and make a batch of this soup tonight, and don’t forget the bread for dunking!

Zuppa Toscana Soup
Serves 8

1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed (I used chicken sausage cause it’s leaner)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 strips of bacon, chopped
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups of homemade chicken stock (if store bought, make sure it’s low sodium)
2 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into half moons
4 cups Kale, washed and stems removed
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add sausages to pan. With a wooden spoon begin breaking up the sausages into bite size pieces. Add 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or more if you really like it hot) and cook through. Remove pan from heat and drain off all the excess grease from the pan. You can do this by tossing the whole mixture into a fine mesh strainer or using paper towels. I go the strainer route, it’s quicker and easier. This step is essential so that you do not end up with what looks like an oil spill over the top of your soup. Not pretty to look at and definitely not good to eat!

Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Toss in the bacon and cook through, add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the chicken broth and water and allow the liquids to come to a boil. Throw the lid on to save some time. When everything has come to a boil toss in the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Add in the heavy cream, sausage and kale and cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

* This is a pretty thin soup so if you’re like the boy and prefer your soups a little more creamy, mix 2 tablespoons of corn starch with 2 tablespoons of water. Add this in after you add the heavy cream, sausage and kale and allow it to simmer for 5 – 7 minutes. The soup will thicken the longer it simmers.