Slow Cooker Copycat Recipe - Zuppa Toscana
The weather is (finally!) starting to cool down and Fall is on its way! I absolutely love this time of year - it means scarves, hoodies and making homemade soups. I absolutely love using the slow cooker, and my appreciation of this appliance has continued to grow since baby was born. One of my favorite dishes to create in the slow cooker is a copycat of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana. If you aren't familiar with this soup, it's a hearty dish featuring Italian sausage, potatoes and kale and it's really delicious. Let me add that we are not normally big fans of kale, but it is really good in this soup. However, you can substitute Swiss chard or spinach if you prefer.
It had been years since I'd been to Olive Garden, because once I learned this recipe, I didn't have any reason to go. Although, I suppose it would be nice if I had someone bringing me bottomless breadsticks while I ate - that is really the only thing that would make this recipe better (it's that good)! While I was pregnant, we went to Olive Garden for endless soup, salad and breadsticks and their version of this soup wasn't quite as good as I remember.
I make this regularly during the Fall/Winter months and John absolutely loves it. We usually warm up a loaf of fresh French bread and open a bottle of wine to go with the meal. Although this may be a "copycat" recipe, I am confident in saying that it's much better than the original. If you have a smaller family like us, it makes tons of leftovers that are even better reheated! Here is the recipe so you can try it for yourself:
|Preparation Time||Cooking Time||Approximate Servings|
|15-20 Minutes||4-6 Hours||4-6 Adults|
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage (we prefer hot, but the mild works just as well if you don't want the extra spice)
- 1 yellow onion - diced
- 6 slices of bacon - diced (you can substitute real bacon bits too)
- 1 teaspoon of garlic - minced
- 4 cups (1 32 ounce box) of low sodium chicken broth
- 4 russet potatoes - cut into bite size pieces (you can use any type of potatoes - Yukon golds are quite good as well)
- 1 small bunch kale - stems removed and sliced or torn into small-ish pieces (you can also use Swiss Chard)
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- Brown Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium heat
- Drain meat and set aside (you can place it in the slow cooker)
- Place onions and bacon in the skillet and saute over medium heat, until onions are translucent (if using bacon bits, do not saute them with onions, just add them to the slow cooker)
- Place onions, bacon and garlic in slow cooker and add chopped potatoes and chicken broth
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours (soup will be done at 4 hours, but is fine to continue to cook)
- About 45 minutes prior to serving, add kale to slow cooker and stir
- About 30 minutes prior to serving, add whipping cream and stir again
You can top with shredded Parmesan if you'd like, but it's not necessary. Serve in bowls with warm French bread and ENJOY!!