Zuppa Toscana (Copycat Olive Garden Recipe)

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So I took Monday off to recover from a super long work day (17 hours) on Saturday and to catch up on my housewife duties.  Since I'm not married and live alone I slept uptil 1pm and then took 7 hours to put away my 2-foot Christmas tree and do 3 loads of laundry.

I decided around 7:30pm that I should at least leave the apartment building once so I felt like I reeeeeally took advantage of the extra day off.  I told the old ball-and-chain I was headed to the market and he needed to to do something productive since I had been slaving over the Christmas tree for decades.  He lives in Ohio and we were Skyping so I think he ignored me and started watching porn.  

Where have all the cowboys gone?

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Anyhoo, I went to the Morse Market around the corner and through the hood to grab some veggies and other goodies so I could make some delicious treats for myself this week.  I was stumbling past the tomato pyramid (and yes, I squeezed every one of them) when I stopped dead in my tracks in front of a bunch of kale.  Have you ever seen kale on the stem?  It's like 6 feet long.

So I'm standing in the isle, trying to figure out how to fashion this shit into a head-dress, and it hit me - I hate Olive Garden! BUT they make the best soup I've ever had - Zuppa Toscana.  It's a creamy-ish potato, kale, and sausage soup that I got every time I went.  Since I've been to Olive Garden 3 times total in 37 years you can IMAGINE how badly I wanted it.  So I goorgled a copycat recipe, stocked up on the goods and decided to give it a whirl.

Here's what happened:

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

by: Cycle Michael

http://www.food.com/recipe/olive-garden-copycat-zuppa-toscana-38298

Ingredients:

• 1 lb Italian sausage (I like mild sausage) 

          NO - use spicy.  Unless you're a puss.

• 2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 1/4 cup bacon bit (optional)

          NOT optional.  And don't use "Bacon Bit".  Be a grown-up and use you some 

          real bacon crumblies.

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 2 cups kale or 2 cups swiss chard, chopped Kale.

• 2 (8 ounce) cans chicken broth

          I don't know if you notice or not, but this is the same as 16 ounces… Also I

          used chicken stock, not broth.  I don't know what the difference is.

• 1 quart water

          WTF is a quart?  I didn't even add water.

• 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:

- Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces. Or you can get it in the tubes and squish it out the ends.  Makes me sick every.  time.

- Brown sausage in your soup pot.

- Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.

Like I said earlier, I didn't even add water.  I totally forgot about it.  I just put in the chicken stock and the cream and called myself Giada.

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- Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in a separate pot.

This is where I got confused.  Two pots?!  Ain't nobody got time for dat.  I threw the garlic and onions in with the sausage when it was about half cooked.

- Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.

This I did.  Kinda.  I basically just poured all the liquids in and cooked in on medium until the taters were easy to cut in half with my spoontula.

- Add sausage and bacon.

I clearly didn't do this because the sausage was already in there because I used one pot.  Because that's the eco-friendly thing to do.  I  crumbled up about 4 pieces of cooked bacon and tossed it in.

- Salt and pepper to taste.

- Simmer for another 10 minutes.

I ended up cooking mine for like 15 minutes on medium heat.

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8.5 - Have 3 cocktails

- Turn to low heat.

10 - Add kale and cream.

When the potatoes were soft I tossed in the kale and simmered it on low for another 5 minutes.

11 - Heat through and serve.

And…

VOILA!

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Let me just pat myself on the ass and tell you all that this soup… is the shit.  It's spicy and filling and totally put me in the mood to watch a movie and eat ice cream out of the container.  It's not really easy because I tried to be all Food Network about it and cut the kale off the stems until I got good and drunk and just ripped it all off and threw it everywhere.  Everyone deals with stress differently.

In retrospect I should have waited on the cream but I had already mixed it with the chicken stock and I needed the liquid… because I forgot to add the water.  I think I maybe heated it up a little too much but it's delish all the same.

I give this recipe 4.5/5 kale stems.  It's going in my recipe book just as soon as I buy a recipe book.