soup1With the first season’s snowfall in Chicago, I thought it best to make a hearty soup that I can eat for multiple days (aka, feed me until my next paycheck). I was craving something with a chicken stock base, cream and potatoes, a combination that can’t steer you wrong. I thought of making Italian wedding soup (pork and beef meatballs, spinach, chicken stock), but I didn’t want to go through all of the prep work for making the meatballs. My roommate gave me a great idea for a soup that I don’t think I’ve eaten for many years, Zuppa Toscana! Yes, the Olive Garden’s soup that you get with unlimited salad and those salty, garlicky, addictive bread sticks. I can’t remember the last time that I have eaten at the Olive Garden, or let alone even seen one, so I looked up a few copycat recipes that people have posted online. The recipes included ingredients that made my mouth water and required moderate preparation. Here’s how I made it, and you should try it too!

Here’s the list of the ingredients:

1 pound spicy Italian sausage (remove from casing and crumble)

5 slices bacon, cut into lardons (aka matchstick slices) I bought a smoked garlic bacon at Whole Foods.

1 white onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes

4 cups chicken stock, reserve extra in case you need to add more

3 russet potatoes, medium dice

3 cups kale, torn into bite size pieces

1 cup whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste

soup2Heat a heavy dutch oven pot (I use cast iron), then added about a tablespoon of grapeseed oil to the hot pan. Once the oil was hot, I added the sausage and cooked until no longer pink. Once the sausage was cooked, I removed it from the pan and placed into the lid of my pot.

I then added the bacon lardons and cooked until almost crispy. I left the bacon in the pan and then added the onion slices, and cooked them until translucent. Then I added the garlic and red pepper flakes, toasted those ingredients (about 30 seconds, or until you can smell the garlic and red pepper aromas).

Then I added the chicken stock, which luckily I had some in my freezer that I made a while back. I then added the potatoes, and cooked them until they were slightly tender. Once the potatoes were tender, I added the kale, cooked for several more minutes, and then added the whipping cream. I let this simmer for about ten more minutes, as I wanted to reduce the liquid slightly. Once the soup had cooked to my liking, I seasoned with salt and pepper at the end. And voila! I made my own Zuppa Toscana.

This is a pretty fool-proof recipe that didn’t take much time (I think it was less than an hour with prep time and cooking time). The soup is creamy, spicy, and hearty, perfect for cold weather.

Give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think. What’s your favorite cold weather soup recipe? Share here.

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