Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lighter Zuppa Toscana (Sausage Potato Soup)

Back when I was in college, I was a server at the Olive Garden.  After all the time spent there, I can still say that I never grew tired of their famous soup, salad and bread sticks.  One of their signature soups is a creamy potato and sausage soup they call Zuppa Toscana.  I never knew the real recipe, but I had the feeling that it would be right up my dad's alley (the man loves him some potato soup) and worked to recreate it for him some time ago.  Since then, I have found it to be a crowd favorite.  And who can blame them?  Warm, substantial, a little bit spicy and creamy all at the same time.  It comes together quite quickly which is a nice bonus.  Add it to the lineup for one these chilly fall nights! 

Zuppa Toscana Clone (Sausage Potato Soup)
3/4-1 pound bulk Italian sausage (see notes)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 cups chicken broth
4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced as thinly and evenly as possible (see note)
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper (optional)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 bunch kale (about 4 loose cups), washed, ribs removed and leaves torn into pieces

In a large pot, over medium-high heat, brown sausage until cooked through.  Remove from pot and set aside.  Drain off all but one tablespoon of grease (reserve in pot).  Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes or until onion is softened.  Add garlic and saute about 1 more minute, stirring frequently.  Add chicken broth, sausage and potato slices to pot.  Raise heat to high and allow to come to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and cook until potato slices are tender but not yet falling apart (about 15 minutes).  Remove cover, stir in milk and allow to warm through.  Adjust seasonings with salt, fresh ground black pepper and crushed red pepper.  Just before serving, stir in torn kale, allowing it to wilt just slightly. 

Notes: On the Italian sausage, feel free to use hot, mild or a combination of both.  If you cannot find bulk sausage, buy the links and just squish the sausage out from the casings (totally gross, but kind of enjoyable).  You can also substitute turkey sausage for a lower fat option.

For the potatoes, leave the skin on.  This is a place where it's really nice to use a mandolin or a food processor to get a really nice thin and even slice from the potato but if don't let that stop you, it can be done by hand or on a box grater as well.

Finally, the restaurant recipe has bacon in it as well.  I prefer not to put it in, but if you would like, add a few tablespoons of precooked bacon pieces to the soup before serving. 


  1. I worked as a server at Olive Garden in college too! I LOVE their Zuppa Toscana. Thanks for sharing! Thinking it will be a menu item for us as the winter hits this week. ;)

  2. Hey Lauren! I am planning to have this for dinner tonight, but when I was at the store they didn't have any kale. Is there something else I could sub (I have never had kale, so I wouldn't know what to compare it to)? Thanks! I hope you and the boys are well! We still need to get together. Jenn

  3. Hey, Jenn,
    So sorry I didn't see this in time! If you can't find kale, you could substitute some spinach (even some chopped frozen stuff--thawed and drained), or another sturdier green like escarole. Hope you enjoyed it! Miss you guys!