Zuppa Toscano

We had our first cool day this week, and while everyone was pulling out the sweaters and boots, I was reaching for my soup pot. I love October in all it's glory, but one of the most exciting things it brings is soup season! I adore a good bowl of soup and will be making all of my favorites in the months ahead.

Up first is this spicy Italian potato soup. With a good bread on the side, for dunking in that creamy broth, it doesn't get any better than this. If you are in the mood to make some bread, try this fantastic peasant bread that can be made from start to finish in a few hours. You can find that recipe here.

Okay. Want to make some soup? Let's start chopping. Begin by dicing a couple of strips of nice thick bacon and drop them in the pot to brown. Stir often. Remove and drain on paper towel. Don't drain the fat from the pot.

While your bacon is cooking, take two Italian sausage links and remove the casing. You can use spicy or sweet sausage, it really depends on how spicy you like your soup. Sometimes I use a combination of sweet and spicy and then add some red pepper flakes to bring that heat level right where we like it. Crumble the sausage in to the pot and cook until browned. Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate.

While your meat is browning, dice a medium sized onion and a couple of big garlic cloves. You'll also peel and cube four or five potatoes.

When you remove the sausage from the pot, you'll want to leave enough fat to sauté your onions and garlic. Drain any excess. Cook the onions and garlic until softened, but not browned. Now add your potatoes and a box of chicken broth. If your using homemade broth, it's about 32 oz.

Place on medium low heat and cook, with lid slightly ajar on pot. Stir frequently so the potatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add water if additional liquid is needed. Cook until potatoes are tender but not mushy.

While your potatoes are cooking, chop a handful of kale. This is some baby kale that's growing in my garden. These hearty greens are a welcome addition to this soup, so don't skip them.

Add reserved bacon and sausage back to the pot. Stir in a cup of half and half and then the kale. The kale will wilt in the hot soup and be ready to eat. Do not allow the soup to come to a boil after you add the milk. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Zuppa Toscana

2 links of Italian sausage, removed from casing

2 strips of thick sliced bacon, diced

1 medium sized onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

4 to 5 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

32 oz. chicken broth

1 cup half and half

1/4 bunch of kale, chopped

red pepper flakes, optional

salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in stockpot over medium heat until browned. Remove bacon and drain on paper towel. Reserve for later.

Crumble sausage into pot and cook until browned. Remove sausage and drain on paper towel. Reserve for later.

Pour off all but a couple of tablespoons of fat in the pot. Sauté onions and garlic until tender, but not browned.

Add potatoes and chicken broth to stockpot. Cover and cook over medium low heat, until potatoes are tender.

Add reserved bacon and sausage and half and half. Stir. Add kale and cook over low heat for a couple of minutes. Do not allow soup to come to a boil!

Add salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes if more heat is desired.

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