I have made this recipe a few times in the past and it is always a hit. Of course I have to give some acknowledgement to the place that inspired me to make this soup: Olive Garden. This sausage, potato and kale soup is called “Zuppa Toscana” at this restaurant and I’ve had it many, many times there in the past as part of their soup, salad and bread sticks lunch. It’s been awhile since I’ve been there, perhaps knowing how to make this crave-able soup myself is the reason why… Hmm…
Anyway, this is a flavor-packed, brothy and creamy soup full of crumbled sausage, crumbled bacon, onion, garlic, cooked down potato and creamy kale. Yes I called the kale creamy and it really is in this soup. You can choose to add it earlier or later in the cooking depending on how cooked down you would like it to be. If you add it right at the end before serving it will just “wilt” in the soup and retain much more of it’s texture. Alternately, if you add it into the soup 10 minutes or so before serving it will cook down to a silky, creamy almost spinach-like texture. This is how Troy prefers it so that is how I make it. There is another point at which personal preference will come into play: how far you let the potatoes cook down. I like them to loose most of their texture in this soup and add a nice starchy body to this soup.
This all starts with sausage and bacon being browned/rendered in the bottom of a large dutch oven. These meats are then removed and onions and garlic are given a quick saute to build a flavor base to which broth and some water are added. I made the mistake once of not removing the sausage and bacon from the soup and the end result was just not the same. When I left the meat in, the soup ended up much greasier and the meat seemed somewhat waterlogged from cooking in the broth all that time- it lost much of it’s texture. So make sure you remove it and then add it back in later on. Leave about a tablespoon of the oil rendered out to saute your aromatics in and get rid of the rest (if there is more than that). I usually don’t have to drain excess oil off but I guess that really depends upon the sausage and bacon you choose to use. So broth and water are added and the potatoes are allowed to cook until you like the texture of them (as I said I let mine get pretty soft so they break apart and this takes about 20 minutes). Reduce the heat, stir in the sausage, bacon and kale and allow to cook some more before finishing off with heavy cream. This really makes the soup rich and silky. I like to serve my soup with grilled ciabatta or pieces of baguette. You can drizzle the bowls with olive oil and sprinkle with some grated Parmesan if you want to as well.
This soup is awesome. And the leftovers are as well. Plus, there is kale so it must be healthy, right? 😉
Sausage, Potato and Kale Soup (a.k.a. Zuppa!)
- 1 lb. Italian sausage, patties, bulk or removed from casings (I like to use hot sausage)
- 2 large russet potatoes, cut in half and sliced into ¼ inch slices (I use a mandolin and leave the skins on)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into lardons (I like to use a nice smoky bacon like apple wood smoked)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups of stemmed and chopped kale or Swiss chard
- 32 oz. low sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Grated parmesan, optional
- Bread to serve, optional
- Place sausage (removed from casings) and bacon pieces in the bottom of a large dutch oven over medium heat and cook until browned/rendered. Use a potato masher or wooden spoon to break the sausage into crumbles as it cooks
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and bacon to a paper-towel lined plate
- Drain all but 1 tbsp. of the rendered oil from the pan and return to medium heat
- Place the onions and garlic in the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic and softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper
- Stir in the broth and water
- Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are done
- Return the sausage and bacon to the pot
- Stir in the kale (add at the end with the heavy cream if you desire more texture from the kale)
- Check for seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper
- Simmer for another 10 minutes
- Turn the heat down to low
- Stir in the cream, heat through and serve
I served mine with some Parmesan on top and a grilled piece of baguette dunked right into the soup, soaking up all of it’s goodness! YUM! I knew this was a hit when Troy decided he wanted to have leftover soup for lunch the next day (he rarely eats any leftovers and isn’t even a big soup fan- unlike me lol).