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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

Olive Garden is my favorite place to eat at. If you give me 100 choices and Olive Garden is one of the choices I will choose Olive Garden every time. I love their soups, salad, bread sticks, and Chicken Parmigiana with Alfredo sauce. Their Alfredo rocks.

The menu describes Zuppa Toscana as spicy sausage, russet potatoes and cavolo greens in a creamy broth. It is so good. It's funny because when I was younger I wouldn't touch this soup. Sausage wasn't my favorite. My mom loved it and could eat bowl after bowl after bowl. I love that they put Romano cheese on everything. I make them grate it onto a plate so I have a pile of cheese and I can distribute it on my soup for every bite. Extravagant you say, but oh so worth it. Their Pasta e Fagioli is really good too but the Zuppa is my favorite. Don't get me started on their bread sticks. I could eat ten of them at a time if I allowed myself. I knew I wanted to try and make this soup at home because you can't always get to Olive Garden. I searched the Internet and found a copy cat recipe and it tastes just like their soup. I use Italian turkey sausage instead of regular but I can hardly tell the difference.

I cook this soup in the crock pot. I brown the meat the night before and then put it all together in the crock pot the next day. The crock pot does the bulk of the work and leaves us with delicious soup when I get home. I decided to make this soup on Tuesday. Tuesdays are my WW nights and I go to Kim's house to weigh and then we go out to eat. I wanted to have dinner ready for Will so this soup sounded good and I knew there would be plenty of leftovers for the both of us to enjoy over the next few days. Since I wasn't going to be home to add the cream and the kale I texted Will to add both around 2pm. I told him to just tear up two or three pieces of the kale since the bunch I bought was huge. Later that night when I got home from Kim's I looked in the crock pot and noticed only a few small pieces of greenery. I thought Will had ate most of the kale but upon further inspection I realized he added cilantro to the soup instead of the kale. I asked him if it made it taste weird but he said no and that he only put a few leaves in the soup. If you are familiar with cilantro you know the leaves are little. He probably thought I was crazy for telling him to only put in two or three of the leaves. So I scooped out what little was left of the cilantro and put in the kale let it cook for another hour. Next time I'll put the kale next to the crock pot so we don't end up with cilantro again but it didn't affect the flavor the soup. Cooking with help from hubby is always an adventure. But he's a good sport.

Zuppa Toscana
About 14 servings, 4 WW points per cup

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1 lb. Perdue Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage Links
1 1/2 ts. red pepper flakes
1 large onion, diced
2 Tb. real bacon bits
2 ts. minced garlic
10 cups water
5 chicken bouillon cubes, low sodium
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. potatoes, sliced
1/4 bunch kale, chopped

Take each sausage link and remove the casing. Discard casings and place the loose sausage, onions, garlic, and bacon bits into a skillet. Cook the sausage mixture, breaking up the sausage as it cooks, until the sausage is cooked through. Drain the meat mixture.

In a crock pot place the meat mixture, water, bouillon cubes, and potatoes. Cook on low for seven hours. In the last hour of cooking add the heavy cream and kale. I like to sprinkle on cheese if I have it but it's not necessary. I serve with bread sticks.

Yummy Olive Garden in the comfort of my home. You can't beat that.

Link to original recipe: Copy Cat Zuppa Toscana

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