i literally LOVE this soup. ever since i had my first spoonful at the Olive Garden i SWORE i'd figure out how to make it on my own. and i did. so i do- and whenever i make it & bring it to work or send it off with the husband- people trip over themselves to get to the crock pot.
i'm not exagerating. it's that good. and it's easy to make. so you should make some. asap.
Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden Soup)
1 1/2 lb Italian Sausage (sweet or mild)
6-8 slices of bacon (cooked & crumbled) or a package of Real Bacon Bits (i use pre-cooked bacon slices & cook them via the microwave until they're REALLY well done. like very crispy. they get soft in the soup- so no worries)
3 medium potatoes
1 tblsp butter
3 tblsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tblsp hot sauce
1 1/2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
1 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
2 cups chopped kale
3 chicken bullion cubes
6 cups of water
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. cut each sausage link almost in half (long ways) & distribute equal amounts of the hot sauce & 2 tblsp of the garlic between the links.
Place in the oven & cook for 20-25 min (until done)
While the sausage cooks: Chop up the kale & set aside. Peel & slice the potatoes into 1/2 in slices, cut those slices in half & set aside. In a large soup pot (this is the pot you'll be making the soup in so make it a big pot) mix the butter, garlic & bacon piecec & cook on medium heat until the bacon is crispy.
Hint: i use pre-cooked bacon. i cook it in the microwave & crumble it up when done. i then "cook" that in the pot for basically 1-2 minutes (just until the butter is melted & the garlic is sweated) this cuts down on oil & makes your life easier!
Remove the bacon & garlic from the pot & set aside in a small bowl. To the soup pot, add the 6 cups of water, bullion cubes, potatoes, salt & pepper. Set the heat to high & bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium & simmer for about 15 min or so (until potatoes are tender)
While the soup cooks, remove the finished sausage from the over. Cut the sausage into bite sized pieces. (i do this on a cutting board with a fork & knife while the sausage is still hot)
Once the potatoes are tender, add the sausage, bacon & garlic, kale & 2 cups of whipping cream to the pot. Stir gently to incorporate everything.
Allow the soup to simmer for another 10-15 min or so (stirring every now & again).
Remove from heat & serve with breadsticks or rolls. I also like to sprinkle finely shredded parmesean cheese on top.
like i said, this soup kicks ass. i like to make it & then transfer it to a crock pot & take it to functions. i kid you not, people will be salivating & asking "WHO MADE THIS SOUP OF THE GODS!?!?!?"