The soup that will make you love kale.
When the days turn cold and grey, and the nights come all too soon, my soul yearns for a bowl of hot soup. Easy to throw together and delicious heated for lunch the next day, soup makes an appearance several times each week in our home during the fall and winter months. Today I will share one of my favorites: Zuppa Toscana.
There was a time many years ago, B3K (before three kids), when I would make an almost weekly trip to Olive Garden for their unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks lunch special. For a mere $7, I could get my fill of salad, soup, and breadsticks. Ohhh, those breadsticks. I ate entirely too many, especially dunked in my soup of choice – Zuppa Toscana.
I had no idea at the time just how easy it was to make this soup at home. It wasn’t until years later, when faced with an abundance of kale, that I did.
In 2013, the Navy moved us to Northern Virginia for my husband’s last tour. My passion for gardening was growing and I was just beginning to understand food as nutrition and a key component in our health. So, I joined a local CSA and received two boxes of seasonal vegetables every week. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It is a way of directly supporting farmers and buying local food. The first thing a newbie learns about seasonal eating – tomatoes don’t grow in December. Do you know what you get in your CSA box in the winter? Kale. Lots of kale.
Each week I would receive two bunches of kale and had to figure out how to use it. Pro tip: kale added to most soups is delicious.
Searching the internet for recipes to use up all my kale, I stumbled across Zuppa Toscana, my favorite from so long ago. I gave it a try. Wowed at how easy it was to throw together and how it just hit the spot, Zuppa Toscana has been a part of my soup rotation ever since.
Kale is a delicious part of this meal, but the best reason to add kale to your menu is your health. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there, filled with vitamins and minerals. It is also known to be high in Quercetin which is an antioxidant and boosts the immune system. Quercetin came on my radar this past year as a supplement that helps defend against viruses. How cool that one of my favorite soups is filled with this virus fighting ingredient.
Zuppa Toscana is versatile and can be adjusted to fit various diet requirements. Cheryl at 40 Aprons has a delicious version on Zuppa Toscana that we can use to start.
Here are my ingredients:
Following this recipe for Zuppa Toscana here are some ways to switch it up and make it your own.
No bacon? For this pot I eliminated the bacon and used a little more than a pound of sausage.
Love bacon? Add more than the recipe calls for. This would be yummy with bacon crumbled on top.
Don’t like pork? Use chicken sausage or perhaps a meatless option.
Don’t like spicy? Use sweet or mild Italian sausage and cut the red pepper flakes to 1/4 tsp or eliminate them completely,
Need low carb? Replace the potatoes with cauliflower. No one will know.
Not a coconut fan? Use 1/2 – 1 cup heavy cream and add a little more chicken broth. But trust me you won’t taste the coconut.
No broth on hand? I used homemade turkey broth, but chicken broth or stock from the store works, as well as bouillon cubes or “Better than Bouillon.”
Want more nutrients? I used this entire bunch of kale though the recipe calls for 1/2 a bunch. Quercetin for the win!
No kale? Spinach or Swiss chard can be substituted.
No fresh garlic? I love keeping a jar of minced garlic in my fridge or 1 tsp of garlic powder could work in a pinch.
I encourage you to give Zuppa Toscana and kale a try. You may find the soup and the veggie to be new favorites.