Sunday, February 22

Sausage Kale Soup (Zuppa Toscana)

There is something so comforting and soothing about having a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day. 

If you ever wondered about soup, traditionally, soups are classified into two main groups: clear soups and thick soups. 
I always call mine soup or stew; depending on how thick it is and if there are more ingredients than liquid. 

For soup sticklers, many definitions state: 
“Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two; however, soups generally have more liquid than stews.” 

According to Wikipedia, “Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of clay vessels). Animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds were used before this. To boil the water hot rocks were used.”

My first experience with sausage kale soup or Zuppa Toscana was at an Olive Garden restaurant years ago.  Because it’s my favorite soup there, I decided to recreate it at home.  Questioning a server, I found out that the soup is prepackaged in a large bag when it comes to the restaurant and comes from Gordon Food Service (GFS). The restaurant kitchen staff adds fresh kale after pouring the soup into a large pot. Coming in a prepackage bag makes me thinks there are most likely lots of additives in their soup.

Fresh Kale

And anyone who says they bribed or received the original recipe from someone who knew someone who used to work at Olive Garden didn't do their research or should be suspect.
Anyway, fresh is always better in my opinion. And soup with no additives or preservatives is better still.
So here’s how I make mine. 
I like to add only 1 pound of sausage, but the guys always complain that's not enough meat.
You should hear the moans when it’s meatless dinner night!

You can add extra garlic, pepper or oregano if desired or add a little thyme. Whatever tastes good to you.  You can also add a little garlic salt. 
Potatoes will cook down and help thicken the broth, so don’t be afraid to add even more slices of potatoes.
I cook my soup in a Crockpot but it can also be simmered in a stockpot.

This soup is wonderful served with fresh homemade garlic sticks! (recipe coming soon)

Cook the sausage until crumbly and no longer pink

Sausage Kale Soup

2 pints homemade or cans (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream, (or half and half)
1 to 2 pounds savory or Italian Sausage (or combo)
1 large onion
2 – 3 garlic cloves
5 to 6 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch of fresh kale
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste if desired
Crushed red peppers for garnish (optional)

Chop the onions and garlic

Turn Crockpot on high and then pour in the chicken broth, milk and
whipping cream.
(This can also be cooked in a pot on the stove top).
Cook sausage until crumbly and done. Drain and place in Crockpot.
Wash potatoes, slice with peels on and then add to the Crockpot.

Wash and slice the potatoes

Melt butter in the same skillet used for the sausage.  Chop onion and
mince the garlic and add to the skillet.  Sauté the onion and garlic about
3 minutes or until tender then put into the Crockpot.

Saute the onions and garlic

Tear kale into pieces, discarding the stem, and then add to the Crockpot.
Add pepper, a little salt if desired and oregano.

Cook all in a Crockpot or large stockpot

Finally, stir it all together.  Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours.
Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.
Or if cooking on the stovetop, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender and kale is soft.

The broth is one of the best parts of this soup, but if you prefer a thicker broth, remove ½ to ¾ cup of the soup broth. Whisk ¼ to ½ cup flour or cornstarch into the broth to form a consistency of thick pancake batter.  Mix paste back into the soup and let simmer until it thickens.

Here in central Ohio we just got nearly 8 inches of snow dumped on us yesterday.  Then last night, temps dipped into the teens so the roads turned into a sheet of ice.  We're staying home this weekend, catching up on a few needed repairs and just waiting for Spring.
Hope all is warm and well where you are,


Anonymous said...

Yum, soup! Great site by the way, stick with it!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...


Anonymous said...

You are so right, soup in the best thing on a snowy day. Thanks for recipe. And I seriously love your website. Dale Rhiner

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks, glad you like it. Stop back again

Anonymous said...

Even though it's summer in my neck of the woods this recipe and photos makes me want this soup. Ellen

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Ellen, I was recently on a canning site and someone was making beef barley soup and I felt the same way, haha. Thanks for the compliments everyone!