Sunday, March 14, 2010

Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana
inspired by the good old days...

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage
1/3 pound of pancetta, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart homemade chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound Russet potatoes (2 large), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 small bunch kale (or Swiss chard), torn or chopped
Fresh ground black pepper


1. Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and saute in the oil, using a wooden spoon to break up into small chunks. Drain excess fat and set aside.

2. In the same pot, saute pancetta, onions and garlic over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Pour in heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in the sausage and kale. Top with fresh ground pepper, if desired.


Looooove this. This is the end result of a couple of years' worth of adjustments to a rather popular soup from Olive Garden. It was one of Steve's favorite dishes when we were kids and I modified it more and more to suit our changing ingredient preferences (i.e., homemade stock instead of water and bouillon, pancetta instead of bacon, minced garlic instead of puree, chard instead of kale). It's so simple, yet so indulgent, and makes a wonderful meal all on its own, served with crusty bread, or with a salad. It's also still one of Steve's favorites, and mine!


katie said...

That looks so good Melissa! I'm not ready for spring. I am definitely still in soup mode.

Elliott said...

I'll bring the crusty bread!

Seriously, this is beautiful. And it's such a wonderful combination of comforting ingredients, I'm glad you were able to quantify it. If I did this by eye, I'd end up with three gallons of soup.

Does the sausage retain it's heat when you have it in the soup this way? I'd be afraid to lose so much when I drained all the fat off, I'd probably add pepper flakes, too.

Julia said...

So fun to see your culinary evolution in the substitutions you make. The soup looks delicious!

Melissa said...

Katie, I am too. But then I am a soup fiend!

Elliott, I've never had an issue with that, actually, though I buy my sausage from the Italian market and it may be better seasoned than most. I'd notice if the heat was missing... but would never object to adding more either.

Thanks Julia.

LilSis said...

Oh my goodness! I have everything to make this except for the Swiss Chard. I may just have to make a run to the store so I can make this tonight. Even though it's warming up here during the day, it's still cool at night and there's nothing better than homemade soup! This really looks great!

I hate to ask this but do you think it would alter the soup too much if I used half and half instead of heavy cream?

Melissa said...

I think half and half would be just fine LS! And it feels the same up here, still nice and cool to cold in the evenings. It's gorgeous lately, isn't it?

Nancy said...

That looks so good!!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

That creamy texture is calling to me!

Amy said...

Let's see - it has, pancetta, sausage, potatoes, and cream in it. What's not to like!?

Would it be a complete insult to this dish if I left out a portion of the stock, to give it a thicker consistency? Also, I have never cooked with kale or swiss chard. What's the difference? Are they bitter?

Talk to me...

Pam said...

This is one of my very favorite soups - it's so creamy and comforting. I sure wish I had a bowl right now.

I wanted to say THANK YOU for your sweet words about my blog - you truly made my day today. I am really glad you like my recipes.

Psychgrad said...

I keep seeing Zuppa Toscana on blogs. I'd like to try making a version of this myself -- I can almost taste the Italian sausage and potatoes now..

Melissa said...

PG, I haven't seen people making the Olive Garden/cream version so much, but I do see people make sausage, potato and kale soup... the ingredients just go together, don't they?

Pam, you're welcome! Very sincerely meant, and I'm glad you like this soup like I do.

Amy, Steve and I think kale is a bit more bitter, but I suppose it's not that different. For me, it's a texture thing. I like the whole sturdy pieces of chard more than the whole pieces of kale. I can't really explain why.

Rachel, Nancy, thanks!

Brunhilda said...

Another one I'm going to have to file away to make someday. Looks so yummy and comforting.

Melissa said...

Jess, you guys would probably love this soup. You probably remember my old sentimental post on it, no?

The Yummy Mummy said...

Brilliant. Making it this weekend. God, I am so glad you're back.

Melissa said...

Thanks Kim. *Big squeeze* ♥

Rebecca said...

Boy does that ever sound amazing. I have to make it in the next couple days. This sounds great in all the right ways.