my own little piece of tuscany. (zuppa toscana)
I am your typical American mutt. German, Irish, Native American. I pretty much have it all in my family tree.
Except for Italian.
As far as I know, there isn’t a drop of Italian in my bloodline. Despite my dark hair and dark skin, I come from the peoples of bratwurst and beer instead of pasta and wine.
I don’t speak Italian. I’ve never been to Italy. The closest I get to Italy is watching episodes of Jersey Shore (and even I know how un-Italian that is).
But the great thing about American culture is that we openly absorb (bastardize?) other cultures and a large part of that is food. So even this completely un-Italian Indiana girl can make something that speaks to the Tuscan sun—Zuppa Tuscona.
And it is even fun to say. Say it with me kids.
It literally translates to “Tuscan Soup,” but us Americans know this particular version as a creamy, broth-based soup with kale, potatoes and sausage. It is probably most commonly found at a particular Italian chain restaurant (that has the cheesiest commercials on Earth). But it is definitely worthy of your home kitchen.
I’m sure what us Amurhicans consider “Italian” food is decidedly unauthentic, but it doesn’t matter. Because I can picture myself sitting at an outdoor table on the patio of a Tuscan villa, savoring this soup while watching the sunset on the olive groves with Babyface at my side. And if a spoonful of this can summon mental images like that, I’m on board regardless of it’s lack of authenticity.
Oh, and did I mention that this flavorful, creamy soup is easy enough to be a weeknight dinner? Cuz it totes is.
Gather up the ingredients: Italian sausage, onions, potatoes, bacon, garlic, red pepper flakes, broth, half and half, kale, salt and pepper.
Obviously I couldn’t write a post in December without a cameo from Christmas lights.
First up, brown your sausage and red pepper flakes.
You could always use spicy sausage, but I use mild so I can control the heat myself through the red pepper flakes.
Once the sausage is cooked and crumbly, transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain.
Next up, more meat! Cook your bacon until crisp.
Remove bacon. Take a moment to get giddy about the flavorful bits of stuff on the bottom of your dutch oven. This is what makes this soup so good.
Saute your chopped onion and garlic in the bacon grease. No need to chop finely. I used 4 garlic cloves here but your garlickiness can be up to you and how new your relationship is. Babyface and I have been together for almost 5 years. That’s definitely 4 clove range. A clove for every year?
Once they get soft and tender, you are ready to move on.
Add about a half mugful of broth to the pan and start to scrape.
Scrape! Scrape! Scrape! This is called deglazing and we want to get each and every one of those awesome bits of flavor incorporated into the broth. Then add the rest of your broth. I ended up using 6 cups total of broth, a combo of vegetable and chicken.
Bring it to a boil. Go ahead and crumble your bacon and toss it in while you’re at it.
And then add your potatoes. I sliced mine into thin half moons. Whatever makes ya happy.
Everyone in the pool.
Bring it back up to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Which just happens to be the same amount of time it takes me to unload and load the dishwasher.
Once potatoes are ready, turn your burner down as low as it goes and add your half and half.
Hey, where’d the soup go?
Put a lid on it and let the kale wilt. 2-3 minutes.
Stir well, taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if desired.
Serve and enjoy!
Now this is what I can healthy.
Well, not if you define healthy as low calorie and low fat, because well, hello, sausage, bacon and cream!
But that isn’t how I define healthy
To me, healthy food is real and balanced. And this soup is both of those.
And maybe I’ll skip dessert tonight.
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
2 pinches red pepper flakes
4 slices bacon
2 medium onions, chopped roughly
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 potatoes, sliced thinly
1 cup half and half
1/2 bunch of kale, destemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
Brown sausage and red pepper flakes in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once cooked through, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. In same pan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, cool and crumble. Saute onions and garlic in the bacon grease until soft. Add 1/2 mugful of broth to pot and scrape yummy flavor bits off bottom of pan. Add remainder of broth, crumbled bacon, potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender. Reduce heat to low, add half and half, and kale. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until kale is wilted and soup is heated through. Serve and enjoy!
Served with a nice hunkabread for dipping.
And some wine.
Just don’t tell anyone it’s Australian wine.