Recent temperatures in our area have been frigid and a white blanket of snow is ever-present outside the window. While it is beautiful to look at, it definitely limits my excursions outside. I just want to stay inside the warmth of our cozy home and indulge in soothing food and drinks while binge watching Netflix. Although becoming slightly hermit like isn’t all that attractive, the weather has inspired me to make a lot of soups lately including this one that reminds me of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana. This was one of my favorites when I dined there in my younger years. Now I only rarely go there on the occasion someone else requests it and even then I order the healthiest vegetarian option they have which is minestrone and salad. So, when I made this soup with veggie sausage at home and took my first bite, I was pleasantly surprised at how reminiscent the flavor was of my old favorite. And I could serve it to my husband to boot! It’s always a win when I only have to make one dish to make both our bellies happy.
This can easily be made with regular sausage if that’s what you prefer, although if you choose meat over veggie, I suggest a minimally processed anti-biotic free sausage as it’s a bit healthier than traditional sausage. Al Fresco brand chicken sausages are a good choice as they’re also free of nitrates, nitrites, gluten, and hormones. If you’re lucky enough to have an Aldi supermarket nearby, they have their own similar product under their Never Any product line. That store is a blessing to those of us that want to eat healthy on a budget. The location near me carries cartons of organic broths, large bags of organic kale, organic baby potatoes, and this week they started selling vegan Italian style sausages under their Earth Grown line so I was able to buy everything needed for this soup there. Although I encourage you to eat organic foods as much as possible, you can make this with conventional ingredients and it will still turn out just fine. If you use veggie or precooked sausage like I’ve suggested above, it doesn’t take long to make this soup. If you choose to use raw sausage just brown it along with the shallot and garlic in the first step. I kept the size of the potatoes, sausage, and kale somewhat large compared to other soups and also left the skins on the potatoes. This gives it a more rustic quality, saves time, and adds more nutrients as a lot of vitamins and minerals are located in vegetable skins. Pair it with a warm, crusty Italian bread and a fresh side salad for a quick, simple meal.
What do you like to do to combat winter chills? Do you find comfort in a bowl of hot soup? Maybe a cup of cocoa or a more spirited libation? Perhaps cozying up with a book that warms your soul? Let me know in the comments below!
Tuscan Potato & Sausage Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. new (baby) red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
- 1 12oz package precooked Italian style sausage, veggie or meat based per your preference, sliced into half moons
- 2 32oz cartons vegetable broth (about 8 cups)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 4 cups fresh kale, roughly torn into bite size pieces
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for an additional minute, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Add potatoes, sausage, spices, and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add kale and cook 5 more minutes or until kale is wilted and potatoes are tender. Serve immediately while hot. Keep any leftovers tightly covered in refrigerator for up to a week.