By Cassie Johnston
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I am your typical American mutt. German, Irish, Native American – I pretty much have it all in my family tree. Except for Italian. As far as I know, there isn’t a drop of Italian in my bloodline. Culturally, I come from the peoples of bratwurst and beer instead of pasta and wine.
I don’t speak Italian. I’ve never been to Italy. I’m about as un-Italian as you can get. But the great thing about American culture is that we openly absorb (bastardize?) other cultures, and a large part of that is food. So even this completely un-Italian Indiana girl can make something that speaks to the Tuscan sun—Zuppa Toscana.
And it is even fun to say. Say it with me kids. Zuppa Toscana. Zoooooopah.Tosssscannnaahhh!
It literally translates to “Tuscan Soup,” but us Americans know this particular version as a creamy broth-based soup with kale, potatoes, and sausage. It is probably most commonly found at a particular Italian chain restaurant (that has the cheesiest commercials on Earth), but it is definitely worthy of your home kitchen.
I know our Americanized versions of “Italian” food are decidedly unauthentic, but it in this particular case, it’s totally cool, because it’s WAY DELICIOUS. Inauthentic? Probably. Flavorful, creamy soup that is easy enough to be a weeknight dinner? Totally. 100%. A++++.
This Zuppa Toscana, a traditional Italian soup, is a great way to incorporate more greens into your cooking, and it is packed with flavor! Serve with crusty bread and a good red wine.
Brown sausage and red pepper flakes in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pot, add the four slices of bacon and cook 5-7 minutes until crisp. Remove from pan, and set aside to cool and crumble. (Note: At this point there should be a fair amount of dark stuff on the bottom of your pot – do not fear! This is where all the flavor is.)
Add onions and garlic to the pot, and sauté in bacon grease until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add ½ cup of chicken broth to pot and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon until all the dark bits are incorporated into your mixture. Add remaining broth, crumbled bacon, and potatoes.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, and then add half and half and kale.
Cover pot for about 3 minutes to let the kale wilt and soften. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Once the soup is heated through, you are ready to eat.
In order to control the spiciness of the recipe, we opted for mild Italian sausage. If so desired, feel free to use spicy Italian sausage and omit the red pepper flakes. You can also try turkey sausage, chorizo, or another favorite sausage.
Looking for ways to lighten up this soup? Try subbing regular milk (or your favorite non-dairy substitute) for the half and half, and thicken the soup by adding 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with a bit of water during the broth step.
All about the toppings? Add shredded Parmesan or another cheese of choice, crumbled bacon, or even more red pepper flakes to dress it up.
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Hey Cass – do you know approx how many servings this would make/the approx serving size?
Hmmmm! Excellent question, Steph. I’d say 6- 1 1/2 cup servings.
You rock woman! I just made this (subbed italian seasoned ground turkey for the sausage to make it more WW friendly and Silk Original creamer for the half and half since Clark’s allergic to dairy) and it was SOOOOOOOO good. Topped mine with a little shredded parm too – yum! Charlee even liked it! Thanks again!
Knife to the heart! OMG Australia wine is sooooo good. Far better than American wine!
Yes, I am Australian!
Ha! I love Australian wine (hence why I was drinking it). I just felt a little guilty writing a post about Italy and then cracking open a bottle of Yellow Tail at the end. :P
I absolutely love your blog! I live in London now, but I graduated from Indiana State (I know) so I love that you are also a Hoosier.
Wow! London seems like a decided improvement over Terre Haute! Thank you SO much for your kind words. :D
So, the part at the end where you say to turn the heat down as low as it’ll go–is there anything that you should do when cooking on an electric range? The heat stays on the coil for a while–you can always get hotter but you can’t really turn the heat down with a quickness the way you can with gas. (here’s someone else’s pic of their version of my stove: http://lh4.ggpht.com/_VzzFVv_ZbDU/Sn8kGP64TlI/AAAAAAAAAGY/eXzO04sr2j0/DSC00890.JPG)
Any thoughts on compensation? I’ve only got one large coil and 3 itty bitty ones. :(
Hmmm, I’ve never really cooked on electric. But since the coil retains heat, maybe just shut the burner down? Basically you want heat to still be going into to the soup to warm through the kale and cream, but you don’t want it high enough to scorch the cream.
I so love your blog….it’s the pictures, it’s the writing, it’s everything. Italian…food and coffee of course.
Aww, thanks so much! :D
I’m back. Like a stalker, but not really. I just liked the look of this recipe. I’m ordering my groceries online and I found myself in a bit of a pickle concerning this recipe.
In England they don’t have half and half OR the type of sausage you made it with. So I had to get diced chorizo, which I thought might work as a sub, and then single cream, which I think is like light cream in the States. I was thinking of making it a little thicker by using corn starch (Which they call corn flour over here. Look at all the useless knowledge you are learning about England).
So, what I’m saying is that I wondered what your thoughts were on this since you have made this before.
I think the chorizo and cream would work. Truthfully, you could probably even just use regular ole milk and the corn starch method. It’ll still be great! Happy eating. :)
Cassie, this was delish! I was torn between soup and pasta so I replaced the potatoes with ravioli stuffed with potatoes and pecorino, yummy. This was so easy too. Thanks for another great recipe!
YAY! I’m so glad you liked it!
Gee! I just made this and it was AMAZING! My boyfriend thinks I’m a domestic goddess now lol and his mom said “Wow Amanda, I’m impressed!” Thank you so much for the delicious recipe!
YAYAYAY! I’m so glad you liked it!
This was AMAZING. Just made it last night and it tastes exactly like Olive Garden’s version! Thanks!
This is a wonderful recipe and your pictures are beautiful….this is a funny question but what brand are your white bowls pictured here? fiesta? they are lovely. thank you!!!
Nope! Not Fiesta. Off brand from Walmart. :)
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