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Olive Garden used to be one of my favorite Italian recipes. I loved their minestrone and salad, and most of all, their bread sticks. Somehow, I never really payed attention to their Zuppa Toscana, a creamy sausage and potato soup. Maybe because back then, I wasn’t a big fan of potatoes. But now that I am, I knew this was a soup I had to try. I searched online and found a lot of copycat recipes, most of which included bacon. While that might make for a better duplicate, I’m not a big fan of using bacon for flavoring in soup. I do love bacon, but I only want to use it if it will be a dominant flavor, not just a hidden component.

I settled upon these two recipes, and tweaked from there. I’ve made multiple batches of this soup over the last few months, making small changes here and there to make it exactly how I want it to taste. My biggest change was adding more potato… you can’t go wrong with more potato!

On a side note, I realize this isn’t an ideal summer recipe. But it’s a great comfort food. And despite the weather, sometimes I just crave soup! Besides, I read somewhere that when it’s hot out, you’re supposed to eat hot food to make you sweat, thus helping to cool you. So I’m helping you, and me! 🙂Zuppa Toscana

1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup white wine
3 cups water
3½ cups chicken broth
2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups fresh kale (about ½ a bunch) chopped
1 cup heavy or whipping cream

In a large pot over medium heat, cook the ground sausage until browned, crumbling with a spoon as it cooks. Remove the cooked sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl; set aside. Add the diced onion to the pot and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth, water, potatoes, and kale to the pot. Return the sausage to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats and Tuscan Recipes