Zuppa Toscano Soup (Non-Traditional)

I don't
know exactly how many soup recipes I have shared, but the number has be be high. I absolutely love homemade soup. If we have one for supper, I end up eating leftovers every day for lunch until they're gone.  Although I eat my soup the way the recipe shows in the beginning, I love to puree leftovers into a thick broth. I find sipping a giant mug of creamy, pureed soup mid-day really comforting.  

Mediterranean food is always full of flavor, so when I stumbled across this new-to-me soup on a site called Cafe Delites, I immediate threw it in a blog draft to try later. This version is supposedly an adaptation of an Olive Garden favorite - so not traditional.  I wanted to know what was different from the classic Italian version before I tried to make it. 

Zuppa Toscana literally translates to Tuscan Soup. In Italy it’s more specifically called Minestra di Pane, which means Bread Soup. The classic version is created with cannellini beans, kale, zucchini, some chili powder, Italian bacon (called rigatino), tomatoes or tomato pulp, and Tuscan bread. HMMM. I definitely will do some research for a classic recipe in the future to compare, but for today I decided to try this Western one.


The only snag for me is I am supposed to keep the amount of fat I consume down - doctors orders - so had to make some compromises.  I kept the bacon, but switched out the high fat Italian sausages for Field Roast Italian Garlic and Fennel plant based ones. Of all the options I looked at, they had the best list of seasonings and their flavor really popped in the soup. Note  - some no -meat sausages are still really high in fat, so read the labels carefully. If you can find low fat turkey or chicken based Italian Sausage that would work too.  I also switched the cream for 3% milk with some cornstarch as a thickener, and I had Fennel Seeds instead of ground Fennel. It worked fine. The soup was delicious. 


= = = = 

Zuppa Toscano Soup (Non-Traditional)

Ingredients -

1 pkg                   Field Roast Italian Garlic and Fennel plant based sausages (368 G)
4 oz                     Diced bacon
1                          Large sweet onion chopped
6 cloves               Garlic minced
1/2 C                   Dry white wine optional (I omitted this)
6 C                      Low-sodium chicken broth
5                         Russet potatoes scrubbed and rinsed skin on (6 if really small)
1 cube                 Beef bouillon crushed
1/2 tsp                 Salt
1/4 tsp                 Black pepper
1 tsp                    Fennel seeds
1 tsp                    Red chili flakes optional (a little goes a long way)
1-1/2 C.              3% Milk
1-2 T                   Cornstarch (I did a heaping T so about 1-1/2 probably)
3 C                      Chopped kale hard stems removed
Fresh shredded parmesan cheese for serving

Instructions -

Slice the potatoes once length-wise and then cross wise into 1/4" slices.  

Fry the bacon in a large soup pot until crispy and drain on paper towel, leaving just a tiny bit of fat in the pot.  Cross slice the plant-based sausages into 1/4" pieces. Brown on each side in the pot. Remove and set aside. (alternately you could broil flipping them to get them brown on each side)

Add the onions to the pot and sauté until soft, then add garlic and cook for another minute.  If you are including the wine, add it now. Simmer for a couple minutes until it is reduced by half.  Add the chicken broth and increase the heat to bring it to a boil.  Add the beef bouillon cube, salt, pepper, fennel seeds and chili flakes. Stir well.  Add the potato slices and simmer on medium until fork tender (about 10 minutes).

Add the chopped kale and let simmer with the lid on for a couple minutes until the kale is fully wilted.  Combine the milk and cornstarch.  Add the milk, cooked sausage, and bacon to the pot. Let simmer with lid off for a minutes, stirring gently so the cornstarch doesn't get lumpy.

Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with shredded parmesan. Enjoy!