I'm one of those cooks who rarely measures ingredients, hates following a recipe and has a hard time making a dish come out the same way twice. I feel compelled to tweak a recipe every time I make it. Often the dish evolves into something that doesn't bear much resemblance to the original. This recipe is one our family favorites. It started out as my attempt to duplicate the Zuppa Toscana from the Olive Garden. The menu describes the soup as "spicy sausage, russet potatoes and cavolo greens in a creamy broth." Originally I was trying to re-create the soup. As time went by, however, I found that by using a hotter, spicier sausage the soup tasted better and I could get by using less sausage. (I'm mainly a vegetarian but this soup *needs* the flavor that the sausage gives it.) I also found that I like *lots* of greens rather than the few lonely pieces that you find in the restaurant bowl. As well as lots of potatoes. :-) It was very disappointing to eventually return to Olive Garden and find that I liked my new version of Zuppa much, *much* more than theirs. LOL!
I've been making this soup, with this general recipe for several years now so when I saw the Tried, Tested and True Blogging Event over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen I knew this was the recipe I'd submit for my first blogging event. This recipe goes together very quickly. I start the stock simmering and then add the potatoes as I slice. One thing I like about my recipe is that I don't peel the potatoes first. Adds some texture as well as nutrition. For weeks when I know we are going to be extra busy, I'll buy a bag of pre-washed and chopped Kale from the grocery store to make the prep even easier. Another handy thing is that you can allow the soup to simmer as long as you need to. It only enhances the flavor. I can never wait that long though! In order to cut down on the fat in this soup, I add just a bit of cream at the end of cooking. Just enough to give the soup a creamier appearance, not to turn it white. And, of course, freshly grated Parm is a necessity. That stuff from the green can is not the same. Add a salad and some nice artisan bread and you have a delicious meal and you don't even have to leave a tip! ;-)
Teresa's Toscana Soup
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more, depending on your tastes)
1 medium russet potato, scrubbed
2-3 cups Kale, chopped
1/2 pound spicy Italian Sausage
1 tablespoon heavy cream (more or less)
Place stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add salt and pepper flakes, adjusting for your tastes. More pepper flakes if you prefer a spicier dish, fewer if you don't.
Cut the un-peeled potato in half, then into 1/4 inch slices and then cut those slices in half and add them to the soup.
Add the kale.
Brown the sausage. Drain and add the sausage to the soup.
Let the soup simmer until the potatoes are soft. Stir occasionally.
Add cream, stir and remove from heat.
Serve immediately topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.