Monday, January 13, 2014

Zuppa Toscana!

     I am normally not much for chain restaurants, but my father had me convinced that I should give Olive Garden a try - if only for the frugality of soup, salad, and breadsticks. My daughter recently moved in with us (halfway through winter break), and on her first day Jennika and I decided to go to Olive Garden as a sort of treat for everything we had accomplished for the day.

     I decided to go with the unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks with Zuppa Toscana as my soup choice. It was a really simple soup with kale, cream, and ground Italian sausage, but extremely flavorful. Apparently, you can choose a different soup throughout the meal, but I must've had three bowls of Zuppa Toscana, and had no room for anything else.

     Up to this point, I had never really had many Italian soups - sans Italian Wedding Soup and Minestrone.  I was beginning to wonder if Zuppa Toscana was just a soup devised for marketing by the executive chef for Olive Garden, but my googling determined that this was not the case and that it was a legitimate Italian soup. I decided to take on trying to cook it for Dacey, Jenn, and I, but I also knew I'd have to modify it because the original recipe obviously has pork sausage and bacon in it, and Jenn doesn't eat mammals. We were able to locate some Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage at the local grocery and some turkey bacon. So I worked the recipe in this manner:

  4 Sweet Italian Turkey Sausages
1/4 Cup Minced Marinated Garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Medium Onion Diced
1/2 Cup of Turkey Bacon Bits
4 Medium Potatoes Diced
32 oz. Chicken Broth
1 Bunch of Kale cut into strips
2 Cups Heavy cream

     Remove sausages from casing, add to stockpot with minced garlic, diced onion, and olive oil. Cook sausage until browned. Add broth, potatoes, and kale. Cook until potatoes are tender, then add heavy cream. Simmer for 15 minutes.

     For the extra kick from using mild sausages Jenn and I added some crushed red to ours individually. All in all, I think it turned out splendid, however I'd use about a good tablespoon of fennel seed for my next adaptation.

     That's all for now.