Olive Garden’s Zuppa Tuscana (soup)

This is a knock-off, copycat, wanna-be soup recipe mimicking, as close as I can recall, that delicious dish known as Zuppa Tuscana at Olive Garden. The truth is that since we’re on a budget nowadays, I haven’t actually BEEN to Olive Garden in… let’s see… the Prince is almost 5… yeah like 5 years. But I still remember and fondly imagine this soup! I took someone else’s knockoff recipe and morphed it into my own.

Zuppa Tuscana
1 medium white onion, minced fine (or 1/4 cup dehydrated minced onions, rehydrated for 2-3 minutes in hot water first)
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons garlic cloves, minced (I know that sounds like alot, but it cooks down and mellows out well!)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh or dried parsley
2 quarts chicken broth
4 medium potatoes, diced into small cubes (I don’t peel mine, claiming added health benefits. Of course this is also the lazy cook’s method, and I doubt OG fails to peel THEIRS!)
1# sausage (kielbasa, or italian)
2 cups kale, chopped fairly small
1 cup milk (or 3/4 cup heavy cream, if you can bear to use it!)

1 – Start sausage cooking in a skillet. I do mine in 1/2″ of water, with a lid. After it’s cooked, I slice it into medallions and brown them. You can start with precooked sausage and just do the brown-the-medallions stage if you’d like. Or you can chop it up into little sausage bits. Like I said, it’s been 5 years since I’ve had this stuff at the restaurant, I can’t remember how they do everything!<br />
2 – Start onions and bacon in stockpot, cooking in EVOO, for about 5 minutes, until onions are clear and bacon cooked down somewhat.
3 – Add garlic to stockpot and cook 1 more minute.
4 – Add broth and potatoes to stockpot, bring to simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked but still firm (can potatoes be classified “al dente”???).
5 – Add lemon juice, parsley, kale and transfer sausage into stockpot as well. Simmer 10 minutes (or less if you prefer your kale particularly “al dente” as well!)
6 – Add milk and heat through.

This is some good soup. Even the Princess said tonight, “Mommy, isn’t dis soup jus’ delicious!” I love that kid. Serve with breadsticks or a good loaf of Italian bread, and a big yummy salad of course! Be sure to tip yourself well!!

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