If hearing “Zuppa Toscana” generates memories of unlimited soup/salad/breadsticks, and sad, overcooked pasta - you’re not alone. Yes, my first taste of this stuff was from Olive Garden, but never again! With knowledge and bacon by my side, I’ll make this damn soup myself.
Zuppa Toscana is goo-oood. It’s a soup you should get to know - an easy weeknight meal, perfect for company, perfect for cold weather, perfect for all the times - a soup that gets people stoked about eating soup. I mean seriously, when I excitedly announced to my husband, “I’m making soup for dinner!” he did not return the enthusiasm. (That is, until he slurped it up!)
This Zuppa Toscana recipe is my take on the one featured on Budget Bytes blog. Some recipes call for cream and some for half and half - I used half and half and it turned out really nicely.
Oh - and please oh please serve this with crusty, buttered bread.
4 pieces bacon, sliced into lardons
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, removed from casing
1 medium white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons chicken base
1.5 cups white wine
2.5 cups water
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium red potatoes (about 1 pound) - scrubbed clean, cut quarters lengthwise, then sliced
into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices
1 bunch of kale - tough stems removed, roughly chopped
1.5 cups half and half
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Place the bacon lardons in a heavy bottomed pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Cook bacon until crisp, and turn off the heat. Remove lardons from the pot and set on a paper towel to drain. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease from the pot.
Turn the stove back on over medium high heat. Once oil begins to shimmer, add the sausage, breaking the sausage up into smaller bits with a wooden spoon. After the sausage has browned, turn the heat down to medium and add the onions. Cook onions until soft, about 5 minutes, then toss in the garlic. Cook for just about a minute then add the chicken base, stirring to coat everything. Breathe the deliciousness. It’ll be smelling really really good in your kitchen right about now!
Pour in both the wine and water. Turn the heat up to medium high and bring the soup to a boil. Add the potatoes and beans, and cook for about 5 minutes, until potatoes are juuust about tender. Taste test! Then turn heat down to medium low so that it simmers, add the kale and cook until it’s all wilted into the pot, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the half and half and stir, until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in warm bowls and top each serving with bacon!!