Zuppa Toscana. It’s amazing how much power two little words can have in the depths of a man’s heart. Especially when it comes to food. Zuppa Toscana is hands down one of Wes’ favorite meals. Every time I tell him it’s in the meal plan, he gets this wide-eyed excited look and says, “okay!” I really shouldn’t have been so surprised, then, when my brother-in-law responded with similar excitement, “Ohhhh…I lovvvvve Zuppa Toscana!”
I’ve made this soup many times now, have had this post saved in drafts and (oops!) accidentally posted, but haven’t published it with content yet because I wanted to make sure I had it down well enough to share. The one you see at restaurants usually has heavy cream in it, but being allergic to milk, I needed to perfect one that is dairy-free and still just as good (if not better) than the one people are used to. I read countless recipes, methods, ingredients, etc before arriving at my own perfect fusion of ingredients and technique to deliver the warm, savory taste necessary to be a good Zuppa Toscana. I hope you try making it – and enjoy it as much as we have.
Update Fall 2012: I’m no longer allergic to dairy, so the recipe has changed yet again to reflect that. Feel free to use soy cream or coconut cream to replace the dairy, though. I know it works.
Total Time: 60-90 minutes (with prep and cook) Yield: 6 servings
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage (I like to mix TJ’s Chicken Sicilian/Mild Italian & remove the wrappers)
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6-10 pieces thick cut bacon (we use TJ’s applewood smoked), cut into 1/2″ slices
- 1 medium sized yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- dash of salt
- dash of pepper
- 10-12 cups chicken stock
- 6-8 medium sized russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
- 1/2 bunch kale
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Melt the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, add sausage and red pepper flakes and cook until no longer pink. Drain the sausage and set aside.
- In the same pot, cook the bacon on medium-low until just beginning to crisp. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and add onions and garlic. Sauté until translucent & soft.
- Add chicken stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add cream, kale, and sausage and warm until kale is tender and sausage is heated through.
- *** There are many substitutions that can be made: Swiss chard or spinach to replace the kale, chicken bouillon cubes instead of stock, different bacon, different potatoes. Just be careful to adjust accordingly. I’ve used alternative milk types as well. It works, but is not as creamy in texture.