When my family visits, they always like to visit Olive Garden for dinner; I am fine with their meals, but what I really love is their Zuppa Toscana soup. An internet search produced the original recipe, but it made nearly FIVE gallons at a time – just a bit more than my family eats at a typical meal. I adapted it and made a few slight changes to come up with the recipe that follows. Now you just need to pick up some soft rolls from a local bakery to dip in your soup in place of breadsticks and you are all set for your very own OG experience without leaving home!

Zuppa Toscana Soup

Yield: 2 1/2 qts (10 cups)
2-3 slices diced bacon
1/2 lb ground sausage
¼ – ½ tsp crushed red pepper (according to taste)
¼ lb yellow onion, grated (~1/2 onion)
2-3 minced cloves garlic
5 cups hot water
2 TB chicken soup base
1 1/4 lbs yellow potatoes, ¼” sliced (~2 large russets)
2 oz (1/8 lb) fresh kale, 3/4” cut (~ 1 cup, chopped)
½ cup heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp mustard powder
Cook bacon in microwave; save grease. Preheat pot to Med-High heat. Add sausage & red pepper. Cook until internal temp reaches 165 F, approximately 10 minutes. Break up large pieces. Remove from pot & drain well. Place bacon & onion in pot. Cook until onions are transparent, approximately 15 minutes. Add garlic puree, sauté 1 minute. Add water and chicken base. Stir with whisk until base is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Reduce heat to Med. Break up potatoes with masher. Add kale, sausage, and cream. Simmer 5 minutes.
*mustard greens also work in place of kale