I know it may seem like I’m obsessed with Olive Garden lately. I think this is the 3rd copycat recipe I’ve done of their restaurant in the last month. To be honest I really don’t even like Olive Garden all that much (it’s just one of the only few restaurant options I have close by to where I live). We went just a few days ago and I thought my pasta was soggy and the sauce was bland but I will always love their soups, salad and breadsticks. The Zuppa Toscana is my husbands favorite soup there so I decided to order some to go to bring home to make my own copycat recipe.
I went to work adding a bit of this and a little of that to this very basic recipe until when tested side by side they basically tasted identical. You could make your own changes to the recipe, such as adding garlic (I didn’t taste it in theirs so I didn’t add it in this recipe), using hot or sweet Italian sausage (if you use sweet I’d recommend omitting the sugar as it won’t be needed) or if you wanted an even creamier soup just add more half and half or cream. Enjoy!
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 lb Italian Sausage (casings removed if necessary)
- 4 oz bacon (about 4 slices), diced into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
- 3 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 lbs Russet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed then sliced into halves, halves diced into 1/6-inch slices
- 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed*
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 1/2 cups packed chopped kale
- Finely shredded Romano cheese for serving, optional
- Heat olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat. Crumble sausage into 1-inch pieces and add to saucepan. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Drain sausage onto a plate or baking dish lined with paper towels, set sausage aside. Add diced bacon to saucepan, return to heat and saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced onions to bacon in saucepan and saute mixture until bacon is cooked through and onions are translucent, about 3 - 5 minutes longer.
- Add chicken broth, water, sliced potatoes, sugar, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Bring soup just to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and stir in cooked sausage. Cover saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are nearly tender, about 10 - 15 minutes. Add in kale then simmer until potatoes are soft and kale is tender, about 5 - 10 minutes longer. Stir in half and half and warm through. Use a spoon or ladle to remove excess fat from top of soup if desired. Serve warm topped with Romano cheese.
- *To crush the fennel seeds up slightly, just place them in a small resealable bag, seal the bag then use the flat side of a meat mallet to break them up a bit.
- Recipe Source: Cooking Classy