I’ve seen recipes for soups like this one all over the web for a while now, and like thousands of other folks I’ve enjoyed the Olive Garden’s menu staple soup called Zuppa Toscana for years (with a serving of warm, buttery breadsticks and salad on the side, of course!). I figured it was time for me to jump on the bandwagon and make a version of this flavorful soup at home too.
But, first I wanted to know what makes this soup “Tuscan”, (as I’ve never been to Tuscany!) so I did a little research. According to this page on Wikipedia, the popular Olive Garden version that we all know as “soup in the style of Tuscany” is the Americanized and “more calorific” version of a broth-based soup commonly served in the region of Italy called Tuscany. The native recipe for this soup uses some combination of kale, cannellini beans, crushed tomato or tomato pulp, potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, olive oil, powdered chilis, rigatino (a form of Italian bacon), and water. The soup is also served over a slice of fresh Tuscan bread.
Well, I made some of this tasty Tuscan soup… and I rolled with the more calorific (this is a new favorite word. just f.y.i.) American version and I made it with heavy cream. Okay and as you’ll see, I made it even more calorific by adding some flour to thicken it up a little. A creamy soup was what I was craving, but now that I know what ingredients will make a true Tuscan-style, broth soup, next time I’ll keep it more traditional and try it their way.
This soup has an incredible amount of flavor, it’s a hearty and satisfying meal on it’s own, and it’s made with just a handful of simple ingredients. Just note that the most important part of this recipe is the simmering time!
In the beginning stages of this soup, the flavors that impart from the heavily-spiced Italian sausage and a little bitterness that comes from the kale are a bit overwhelming and I was a tad concerned after the first few taste tests. But, I allowed the pot to keep simmering slowly for at least forty-five minutes and thankfully those sharp flavors mellowed out. It just took a little bit of patience and the comforting flavors of this soup came together deliciously.
I hope your family enjoys this soup as much as we did!
Tuscan Sausage, Potato & Bean SoupCourse: SoupsCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 lb bulk, mild Italian sausage
2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups fresh kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 cups chicken broth
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled into bits
1 can (15 oz) Canellini beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup heavy cream
shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese, for serving
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven and then crumble the Italian sausage in to the pot. Cook over medium heat, using a spatula to break the sausage up, until it begins to brown. Using a colander, drain the excess oil from sausage and return it the pot. Add in the diced potatoes, garlic and onion. Saute it all together for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the flour and stir into the sausage mixture until it is absorbed. Fold in the chopped kale, white pepper, crushed red pepper and chicken broth. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Toss in the bacon bits and stir. Allow to simmer for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beans to the soup, bring pot back to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes more. Turn off the heat, remove pot from the burner and stir in the heavy cream.
- Serve soup hot, topped with a few teaspoons of shredded cheese for garnish. This soup is fantastic with some hot, buttered French bread or bread sticks. Enjoy!
- Recipe from A Little Fish in the Kitchen blog at www.alittlefishinthekitchen.com. All content is owned by Marcelle G. Bolton. Please contact the author for permission to republish.
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