Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Zuppa Toscana

Yesterday I made a pot of this tasty soup for a few reasons; 1. I LOVE this soup!, 2. I had all the ingredients on hand from an earlier meal, and 3. I was cleaning out the fridge and needed to make something before it went bad. I understand for some people that soup isn't really a summer staple (I'm in California remember? It's hotter earlier here!) but I just love soup all the time, and it's just a great and quick lunch to have on hand.

I posted this on my Facebook page and got a few comments regarding wanting the recipe, so I figured, why not? Here you go!

 Zuppa Toscana
(An Olive Garden inspired Copycat Recipe, after the cut)

You will need:
2 Italian sausages, OR your favorite ground meat, OR, your favorite meatless option
2 slices bacon, cut into baton sticks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large shallot, halved and sliced
2-10 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like), peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp fennel seed, crushed in your hand or with a pestle and mortar
1 tsp red pepper flake
2 large russet potatoes, skins intact and cut into 1/2-1 inch cubes
1 large bunch of kale, (or any other leafy greens) rinsed, and roughly chopped
1 carton Chicken broth + water to cover
1/4 cup cream or half&half (milk will curdle, and you don't want that!)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Start by browning your meat in a very hot stock pot. This step is crucial! The browning activates the "caramelization" of the meat and the brown bits are where the flavor is. Add spices, to toast and release aromas. Drain the meat on paper towels, leaving the brown bits in the pot, but removing most of the oil. Return the pot to heat and add the olive oil, heat til hot, but not smoking. Add the onions and shallots, scraping up the brown bits and evenly coating with the oil and cook til translucent and starting to brown, add garlic until soft. Add half the broth to deglaze the pan, add drained meat back into pot. Add potatoes, and remaining broth. Add water to cover. Bring to a slow rolling boil, about 10 minutes. Add kale and cover to wilt. Take your cream out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, letting kale wilt, and potatoes soften. Add cream, stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.

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