Zuppa Toscana Soup

I got this recipe from an old friend when we lived in Texas and it's still one of my very favorites to make. So thank you Megan Hamilton for this recipe! I made some minor changes of the way we like to make it so I will put those in parentheses next to the original recipe I was given. I have seen very similar recipes out there for this same soup so if there is something you don't like in here feel free to google it or look for another version on pinterest. But I'm telling you I get rave reviews any time I make it. It's also my 20 month old's favorite meal.. you can't go wrong with a meal your kids will eat! So lets get started.

1 lb Spicy or Mild Italian Sausage Links or Ground (I prefer ground, not spicy so the kids LOVE it)
2 Medium Potatoes, sliced or cubed (I usually use 3-4 red potatoes, cubed but you can do russets)
3/4 Cup Yellow Onion, diced
6 Slices bacon, crumbled (I've substituted Real Bacon Bits, but typically we use a whole package of bacon)
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced (I use the garlic in the squeeze tube or jar found in the produce section and just throw some in there, we prefer more like 2 tsp so a couple cloves)
2 Cups Kale Leaves, washed, cut out the stem and chopped
2 T Chicken Base and 1 Quart Water (I use 3 Cans Chicken Broth)
1/3 Cup Heavy Cream (I use the whole pint!)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees if using sausage links. Place skinned links onto a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut at an angle into half inch slices.

If using ground sausage you can either form into bite size sausage balls and cook or brown ground sausage in a pan or the pot you'll be using (Which is what I like best. We really like getting those really done edges of the meat, they create another level of flavor!)

In the recipe I was given you cook the onions and bacon together in a pan but I like to bake my bacon in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. I line a cookie sheet or two with foil so clean up is easier later. You have to watch it after about 10 minutes. Sometimes I'll flip the bacon if it doesn't seem like it's cooking evenly, along with turning the pan if you have hot spots in your oven like I do.

So then I just cook my onions with about 1-2 T of oil in the pot I'm going to continue making the soup in. The less pans to wash the better, right? When the onions are clear add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Add chicken broth (or base and water) and the potatoes. Allow to simmer 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft. You don't want to overcook the potatoes otherwise they're fall apart. So depending on how small you cut them make sure you keep an eye on it. Add the crumbled or cut bacon, sausage, kale and cream. Simmer 4 minutes and serve with Parmesan cheese and a baguette, or garlic bread. It's fantastic! I am so glad I'm making this in the next week. I've got one of those cravings!

If you're super lazy or just don't feel like making soup, go to Olive Garden. It's the only thing other than salad and bread-sticks I enjoy there.

If you enjoy making bread or just really like Olive Garden Bread-sticks make this recipe from Mels Kitchen Cafe. The only change I make is sprinkle a little salt over the top and they're taste just like them.. Mmmmm


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