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Jan 03 2010

Toscana Soup with Homegrown Kale

Published by at 6:58 pm under Cooking at Home

Even though it’s wintertime, our garden is still flourishing with fruit and vegetables – particularly winter vegetables that we recently planted. We have some purple and green kale in the garden that we wanted to use to make soup. Kale is a form of cabbage that is high in antioxidants, which is ironic because most restaurants use curly kale as a garnish for dishes – and people are too afraid to eat it! But if you’ve ever been to Olive Garden and had one of their famous soups, Zuppa Toscana, then you’ve eaten the green leafy vegetable in the creamy soup, which is in the same family as kale. They call it cavalo greens. We have eaten Zuppa Toscana many times before so we figured we would take a stab at making it at home, considering there aren’t too many ingredients to create this soup. The main ones being – spicy sausage, potatoes, kale, and the creamy broth. So here we go!

To prep the vegetables, chop 1 large onion, cut 2 russet potatoes (with or without skin) in to 1/4" thick slices, and rough chop 4 cups of fresh kale to bite-sized pieces.

Cook 1 lb. of spicy Italian sausage and drain the fat. Then add the onions and 4 minced garlic cloves to the pan and cook until aromatics are released from the garlic - about 1 minute.

Next, add 8 3/4 cups of chicken stock and the potatoes and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are soft.

Finally, add 4 cups of kale, 1 cup of half-and-half, and 2 tbsp of bacon bits (if desired). We decided to eliminate heavy cream and use half-and-half instead to make this a more figure-friendly soup. We also used soy bacon bits that we got as samples, instead of real bacon. Cook over low simmer for about 10 minutes until kale is soft. Season with salt and pepper.

This is such a flavorful soup that can substitute as a full meal, because you have the protein and fat from the sausage, carbs from the potatoes, and vegetables from the fresh kale. By using fat free half-and-half instead, the soup is not loaded with additional fat. Hey, we may be addicted to food, but we still want to make some healthy choices!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Toscana Soup

41 responses so far

41 Responses to “Toscana Soup with Homegrown Kale”

  1. ravenouscoupleon 03 Jan 2010 at 8:01 pm

    your garden is so impressive and so is this soup! Yum!

  2. Michael / South Bay Foodieson 03 Jan 2010 at 10:38 pm

    I love OG’s Zuppa Toscana. Its the only thing I really eat there..ha!

    This is a nice adaptation of the soup! One trick I learned with soups like this is to take a few cups of the soup after its cooked and blend it until smooth, then add it back to the rest of the soup. It makes it creamy without more cream! :)

    And yes, kale is so much more than a garnish! :D

  3. Alta (Tasty Eats At Home)on 04 Jan 2010 at 5:21 am

    One of my fav dishes at OG – which overall is not a #1 choice of restaurants for me. This looks heavenly.

  4. Amyon 04 Jan 2010 at 7:12 am

    This is wonderful soup! I use cauliflower rather than potatoes to lower the carbs and it’s just as yummy.

  5. dokuzuncubuluton 04 Jan 2010 at 7:14 am

    I like it. This is very healty recipe. Super!!!

  6. Xaion 04 Jan 2010 at 7:23 am

    wow it looks delicious! i miss toscana soup! i havent made this in a long time and your soup reminded me that i need to buy me some kale now since i dont have kale in the garden. oh wait, i dont have anything in my garden.

  7. Lori Lynnon 04 Jan 2010 at 7:28 am

    I make a soup very similar. Yours looks delightful!

  8. Ruthon 04 Jan 2010 at 7:51 am

    Saving this! Love the flavours! Perfect for this weather!

  9. Alisonon 04 Jan 2010 at 8:31 am

    What a great kale recipe! I have to try to make this soon.

  10. Danicaon 04 Jan 2010 at 8:34 am

    YUM! I LOVE soups with kale and italian sausage.

  11. Tina Marieon 04 Jan 2010 at 8:36 am

    That looks so good. I am impressed that you are still harvesting veggies – it’s so cold here…I would have frost on all of it!

  12. Mrs. Mordecaion 04 Jan 2010 at 8:47 am

    This looks great! I think I will try it with evaporated milk in place of the half and half, which I don’t keep around. I’ve found it makes a great substitute for cream. My husband will love you. Thanks.

  13. Bizon 04 Jan 2010 at 9:04 am

    Hooray for having winter vegetables! I’ve tried kale on several occassions, and am not a huge fan – I may have to try this soup though!

  14. Stepphanie Quilaoon 04 Jan 2010 at 10:54 am

    I love it when people make healthier versions of chain restaurant dishes. We can enjoy a home cooked version. Your soup looks awesome!

  15. Vegetable Matteron 04 Jan 2010 at 11:29 am

    I’m so jealous of your kale. Ours is not much bigger than my pinky finger right now. And you use is beautifully in your soup. Your last picture should be the cover of your cookbook when you publish one — tempting even to a confirmed vegetarian.

  16. Andrea [bella eats]on 04 Jan 2010 at 11:32 am

    I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this recipe on Foodgawker! This soup is one of my all-time favorites, and I’ve been playing with the idea of trying to come up with the recipe for some time now. Thank you!

  17. Amandaon 04 Jan 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I *heart* you for posting this. I saw this recipe on Tastespotting, which I’ve been neglecting, and it reminded me how much I love that soup! Bless you for posting this! I always thought it was spinach in the soup (I am no veggie connoisseur), glad to know it was something different that I didn’t even know I liked!

  18. cassieon 04 Jan 2010 at 5:46 pm

    This looks truly fabulous! And fresh Kale…Jealous!

  19. Nate @ House of Annieon 04 Jan 2010 at 6:15 pm

    That Zuppa Toscana is one of the only redeeming dishes at Olive Garden, IMO. Yours looks immensely delicious. All the better that you used homegrown kale.

    I’d like you to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup for January. Full details here:

  20. thefoodaddictson 04 Jan 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Wow, we’re surprised at how many people love this soup from Olive Garden! Thanks for all the wonderful tips that you’ve used to make this soup. We still have a lot of kale so we need to think of something else to make with it.

    Everyone’s comments rock! Thanks for the feedback :)

  21. Shelley (PinK House)on 04 Jan 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I’ve made this soup too! My recipe is similar but a bit different. My version is listed on my blog under “REcipe Collection”. I think it makes a different as to the sausage you use. Some are spicy and others more sweet and mild.

  22. Divinaon 05 Jan 2010 at 12:47 am

    The photo is too good to eat. I love kale and this soup is just superb.

  23. Conor @ HoldtheBeefon 05 Jan 2010 at 1:38 am

    I have tiny seeds sprouting in my backyard so hopefully will be following in your homegrown footsteps soon. This looks great!

  24. Suzy Gruyereon 05 Jan 2010 at 8:44 am

    I’ve prepared this soup many times, there’s always a container or two in my freezer. Love it! Thanks for the gardening inspiration to go along with it. Herbs are my current horticultural limit but kale can’t be THAT hard to grow…

  25. My Man's Bellyon 05 Jan 2010 at 11:59 am

    My garden is overflowing with kale as well. Love that soup at OG. Thanks for this recipe…will definitely be making this.

  26. The Chickenless Chickon 05 Jan 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Totally agree with Vegetable Matter… that last pic is totally cookbook-cover-worthy!

  27. sippitysupon 06 Jan 2010 at 8:14 am

    I envy your garden (and your soup!) GREG

  28. wasabi primeon 06 Jan 2010 at 9:22 am

    Beautiful — and I love that you’re still able to harvest from your garden. Ours was like a solid brick of icy dirt not long ago. I think the only things I can pull right now are herbs, but I’m at least glad for that!

  29. Julianaon 06 Jan 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you so much for the recipe, I like Toscana soup and always order it at Italian restaurants…yours look fantastic…nice pictures as well :-)

  30. Nicoleon 06 Jan 2010 at 6:14 pm

    That soup looks fantastic! I’ve never thought to add kale to soups — love it! I will definitely be doing that : )

  31. Joanneon 06 Jan 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Sausage and kale go SO well together. I like cooking something like this over pasta. Fabulous dish.

  32. thefoodaddictson 06 Jan 2010 at 10:09 pm

    We’re definitely learning more about food photography! Thanks for the generous compliments on the photo. :)

  33. DianaHayeson 09 Jan 2010 at 11:18 am

    We use kale raw in our salads because it’s one of the first things to survive the winter and come up in our garden. I love it in soups and cooked too though, it’s so delicious. I like your toscana soup.

  34. Bromographyon 12 Jan 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I do not usually like kale, but this recipe looks really good. The photos are great. I will have to give it a try.

  35. Carrie @ Deliciously Organicon 13 Jan 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Looks delicious! I just got a large bunch of kale in my CSA box this week and now I know what to do with it!! looking forward to trying the soup!

  36. Corinna G.on 14 Jan 2010 at 11:38 am

    I made this soup for a warm winters dinner. My husband and kids loved it. I loved the simple recipe since I am recovering from shoulder surgery. Thanks. UMM UMM UMM!

  37. Alisonon 18 Jan 2010 at 12:43 pm

    I made this last night and it turned out great. Thanks!

  38. Rinaon 18 Jan 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Dear ……,
    I like your recipe, but would you mind telling me the source of information for this zuppa and the area in Tuscany where they make it? I have lived in Tuscany for over 30 years and the area where I live is famous for the typical Tuscan zuppa called: zuppa di pane, or minestra di pane, but I have never heard of your version. The recipe includes vegetables: cabbage, kale, onion, celery, carrot, courgettes, peas, tiomatoes, french beans and very important: beans (cannellini). You cook everything for about three hours and then you make layers of thin slices of stale Tuscan bread (no salt in it!), the soup, uncooked red onion thinly sliced and olive oil. Enjoy!

  39. thefoodaddictson 19 Jan 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Hi Rina,

    Like we mentioned in the blog, we were inspired by Olive Garden’s version of the Toscana soup so we prepared it with what we think is in the soup. We have no idea where in Tuscany this soup is from. It probably has something to do with the kale/cavalo greens that is used in the soup. I think it’s sometimes called Tuscany kale? Thank you for your version of the “authentic” toscana soup! If we have all of these ingredients, we will definitely have to try it. Living in Tuscany for 30 years must be so wonderful! We loved Tuscany when we went to visit a few months ago!

  40. Rinaon 21 Jan 2010 at 8:21 am

    Dear Krissy & Daniel,
    Thank you for your reply. Being English-born, but having lived in Tuscany for all these years, I would just like to add a few more things: I forgot to tell you that in this “minestra di pane”, you have to put a herb (a very small amount otherwise it will cover the other ingrediants) that Tuscans call “pepolino”: I have looked up the English translation and it says “wild thyme” or “serpillo”. You might know better than me if serpillo and wild thyme are the same thing. Also: when Tuscans eat this zuppa, they accompany it, as I said, with raw onion and sometimes with…white grapes! I mean, you have a morsel of the zuppa and after a grape. For a good result it is absolutely necessary that the bread is Tuscan bread without salt. With salted bread or bread from other regions it just doesn’t taste the same! And, of course, the oil has to be extra virgin olive oil – better if it’s new!
    “Kale” is “cavolo nero”.
    And to end all this, Tuscans call “ribollita” the following: the day after we put some olive oil (extra virgin olive oil, of course, because Tuscans are obsessed with it) and they cook (not too much) some onion and garlic (and sometimes chilli) in this oil and then we add the above-mentioned zuppa. Basically, it is a dish that belongs to the “cucina povera” (= healthy food that farmers used to cook), very much in fashion now. Hope this helps!

  41. Sarahon 24 Jan 2011 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for participating in our RecipeLion Blog hop! Just letting you know we’ll be featuring your recipe with link in one of our upcoming newsletters. Hope you can join us again for next month’s blog hop on the 18th. Thanks!


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