One of the reasons I used to be um, bigger, is because during my junior year of high school, I developed a serious and intense love for Olive Garden. My friend Grant and I would go pretty much every day. I always had the same thing: unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks. (Note to marketers: nothing speaks to the poor big girl like the word “unlimited.”) My soup of choice was always zuppa toscana, which is a spicy sausage soup.
In hindsight, I think the unlimited breadsticks were a bigger problem than the unlimited soup (How much soup did I really eat when I was full of breadsticks?!) but regardless, I stopped frequenting the Olive Garden when I started eating healthier. I had forgotten all about my beloved soup until recently, when I decided I needed more sausage in my life. Luckily, I was able to make a version of it that is, for lack of a better word, bomb-ass.
Seriously, this is one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever had and I love soup, so I don’t take statements like that lightly. It’s a variation on a soup recipe via Emily from Relishments and an old ragout recipe from Cooking Light, with a little inspiration from my potato and kale soup (which can be a great vegetarian/vegan variation).
This is How We Do It
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp olive oil, 1-2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 cup chopped white onions, and 1 lb. ground Italian sausage (I used sweet Italian chicken sausage). Cook until sausage is brown. Add 5 and 1/2 cups of chicken stock to the pot with 4-6 small red potatoes chopped into bite-sized pieces and one can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed. Turn up the heat to bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
While the soup is heating, tear (or cut, if you aren’t lazy like me) a bunch of kale into small pieces, until you have about four cups. Add the kale to the simmering soup and let it simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!
This is one of those getting it moments where I’m just like, Oh…so I could have avoided 99 percent of those trips to Olive Garden with this recipe. Oops.
Um, better late than never, right?
I actually made this soup one morning before work. I really wanted a good lunch that day; this was the day after I realized I had no more leek and cranberry fried rice and was forced to eat Subway, which just made me feel sad. I’d wanted to make this soup the night before, but I hadn’t gotten to it. So I got up 15 minutes early to throw all this together. Making soup at 7 AM felt a little odd, but since there are so few ingredients and it’s so easy, it was pretty easy to do while I finished getting ready.
And it was so worth it. It’s savory, salty, hearty, and comforting, but light enough that you don’t need a nap after finishing it. The recipe made a ton of soup (about eight servings) and I happily ate it all without getting sick of it. Definitely perfect for the snowmageddon the entire country seems to be experiencing right now.
Except in Houston, where it’s pretty cold (in the 30s!) but flurry-free. However, apparently in some sort of effort not to be left out of the nation-wide snow day, the area where I work has lost power. But writing about soup, cozy on the couch in my flannel shirt and Uggs, has made it wonderfully easy to pretend that the weather outside is frightful.
Stay warm and safe today!