I'm not really a fan of Olive Garden, with one gigantic exception: their Toscana soup. You know the one. It has potatoes and sausage and bits of kale. Delicious. I got a bee in my bonnet this weekend to give it a try at home. It's amazing what a person can accomplish in a day with a little help from Google and modern grocery stores that sell kale in April (!).
Once again, I've been shocked and amazed at how easy cooking can be when one's willing to try. And, I'm feeling rather grateful to someone named GenYChef who posted the original of this recipe. The biggest change I made really was to cut the recipe in half, for the mister an I have no use during the week for soup that feeds eight.
(serves 4-6, or dinner plus lunch the next day!)
21 oz chicken broth
4.5 cups water
2 pieces bacon
1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage , loose-ground
2 large russet potatoes , skin-on and cut into small chunks
1/2 large red onion , finely chopped
2 garlic cloves , minced
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/2 tablespoon black pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder , ground
1 cup kale leaves, chopped
1. In a large stock pot combine the water, chicken broth, salt, and potatoes and set to a low boil.
2. In a separate pan fry up the bacon until slightly crispy and set aside; save the bacon grease.
3. In the same pan used to cook the bacon add the Italian sausage, onion, and olive oil and simmer on low until the sausage is browned and crumbly.
4. Chop or tear the bacon into small bits and add to the cooked sausage, then add everything into the soup pot.
5. Mix the garlic, spices, and cream into the soup pot and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
6. Five Minutes before serving mix in the chopped kale leaves.
7. Sprinkle on a little Parmesan if you feel so inclined.