Monday, December 6, 2010

Zuppa Toscana (Schmambs Style)

I remember the first time I had Zuppa Toscana.  It was last year when Schmambs & the clan moved back to Massachusetts from Oregon.  Before that, I had no idea what it was.  Even after Schmambs tried to explain that the Olive Garden has it on their menu.  The lightbulb above my head remained dark.  The description on All Recipes describes it as "A creamy sausage and potato soup".  The pretty much sums it up.  Cream, sausage, potato, kale, and most importantly (in my opinion) bacon.  

One cold wintry night, Schmambs was trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  "You haven't made your Zuppa Toscana in a while.", I stated.  She replied, "Well that's cause it's been too hot.  Now's the time for it."  So it was decided.  By the time I arrived after work, Schmambs had already started browning the sausage.  

After browning the sausage, she put it aside and had hubby cut a few strips of bacon and get that sizzling.  The recipe recommended six strips.  Key word, recommended.  We may have been a little more on the liberal side on the number of bacon strips we used. 

Next up came the chopping of the garlic, onions, and potatoes.  Since she is only one woman, hubby played sous chef as he chopped the potatoes and monitored the cooking of the bacon.  The onions proved to be a bigger challenge than anticipated as halfway into the task, Schmambs had to take a time out due to not being able to see.  Tears streaming down her face prompted the little one to ask, "Mommy, why are you crying?"  After a short break, Schmambs was able to finish the task while blinking back tears.


You want to cook the garlic and onions a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients to the pot, so they went in with the bacon.  After that cooked for a bit, the sausage, water, and cream were added to the pot.  I'll admit, it wasn't the most appetizing site.  Just a big pot of...white water...with stuff in it.  But I know that it's not how a food looks when it's being prepared, it's the final presentation that matters.  And judging by the way her kitchen smelled, I knew we were in for a treat.


While the soup was being brought to a boil, Schmambs started chopping up the kale.  It doesn't take long to cook - you still want to retain a little bit of crispness, and it gives the soup a bit of color.  I mean, you saw the picture above, right?  It needs a little something instead of drab white.  Chop chop chop went Schmambs.  Before I knew it, it was time to throw it into the pot and mix it in.

After letting it cook for a few minutes, dinner was ready to be served.  But wait!  Schmambs had a surprise.  She had also made mini loaves of Italian bread!  With a few spices and she even put cheese into the dough!  It was absolutely delish and went perfectly with the soup.  The little one feared the kale, but gobbled down half a loaf and then asked for more.  It was the perfect meal to warm yourself up on a cold night.

Zuppa Toscana (Schmambs Style):
adapted from the recipe on All Recipes 

* 1 lb Italian sausage removed from castings
* 4-5 Yukon gold potatoes
* 1 medium sized onion
* 6-10 slices of bacon
* 3-4 loves of garlic
* 2 Cups of kale
* 1 Quart of chicken broth
* 1/3 Cup cream

Brown sausage in pan or pot.  Put aside.  Cut bacon strips into bite size pieces and cook in pot that you will be cooking the soup in.  (This is so you don't have to dirty as many pots while making this dish.)  While bacon is cooking, chop up garlic, onion, and potatoes.  When bacon is fully cooked, add in the onion and the garlic and cook until onions are clear.  Then add in the chicken broth, cream, and potatoes.  Let it simmer for 15 minutes while you chop up the kale.  Mix in the kale and simmer for another 4-5 minutes.  Serve.

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