When I returned from my cousin’s house after the Holidays i was craving that sopa tuscana that she made. The soup made with sausage and potatoes brings me back to the one of two times i ever went to the Olive Garden. (because apparently you don’t learn lessons the first time around- I despise Huge restaurant chains like Olive Garden because a lot of what makes food special is tradition and that homemade touch. I just feel a lot of it gets lost in being a Chain…. i digress) The first time i went to Olive Garden was with my cousin a few years ago when the endless soup and salad fad was all the rage. We went there for lunch and the unlimited soup and salad was included with the meal (jeez louise); I ordered chicken parm and when asked about my soup my cousin said sopa tuscana because it was really good. It was a cloudy broth that had chunks of soft potatoes, carmelized onions, crumbled sausage and a smoky bacon taste. I had 3 bowls and brought my chicken parm home (which is where i discovered my hatred for Olive Garden and they horrid sauces).
Well, My cousin made this soup over Christmas break and it was even better than I remembered it. I helped with the prep and figured I could play around with this recipe on my own.
And here are the goods!
2 tbsp milk, 1 tbsp flour, 1 lb of smoked bacon (i used turkey), 1 med sized onion, 6 cups of chicken broth, 6 potatoes sliced into rounds, 1 lb of sausage (sweet or hot), 1 bunch of kale (washed, trimmed, and cut into large pieces)

I washed my kale and ripped the leaves into chunks, discarding the stem and ugly pieces. i set them in a colander to drip dry until i was ready for them.

I roughly diced an onion and sauteed it in a pan with a light drizzle of olive oil.

Roughly diced up some smokey turkey bacon…and added them to the onions. Sautee until the bacon slightly crisps and the onions carmelize.
Get a large pot out and add all your chicken broth to the pot. Start to heat the broth since we now have to cook potatoes in there.

After scrubbing some yukon gold potatoes, I sliced them into rounds and added them to the now simmering chicken broth. I leave the skin on because i loves it… but if it grosses you out you can peel them.
Add you bacon and onions to the chicken broth and potatoes and get ready to cook the sausage. I was looking for the giant tube of jimmy dean sausage filling but I couldnt find any. If you find it, that would be ideal but if not, grab a lb of sausage, take them out of the casing and cook them up on the stove top using your cooking utensil to break them up into bits.

MMMM. Sausage crumbles. Do not taste them crumbles as you cook them. they are more addicitng than they appear.
Once the sausage is cooked…

Add it to the pot of other yummy stuff. Season to your liking. I added some italion seasoning, granulated garlic, salt and lots of cracked black pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add all of your kale… don’t worry- it will wilt down and turn into something gorgeous.

OH YEA! thats the stuff! We’re almost done! take a small bowl and put a few tablespoons of the broth in the bowl. add the milk and flour and whisk till there are no lumps. this is our thickening agent in our yummy soup. If you want to experience the full effect of this soup, omit the flour and milk and add 1/4 cup of heavy cream… However, with it being a new year and damn near everyone is on a diet I figured i would lighten this up just a little! once the mixture is lump free pour it into the soup and give it a giant stir. Soup is ready when potatoes are fork tender and kale is soft.

Have a big bowl wearing a warm snuggie and get that cozy feeling (hell, i know I needed it with all this FRIGID weather!)

And look at all those leftovers. Its gonna be a SOUPY week for me!
My version of the soup was a bit more “peppery” than my cousins. the addition of garlic powder made the flavors a lot bolder in the soup- with all the smokiness from the bacon- it could be ommitted and still taste amazing.
My apartment still smells like bacon and onions but thats not such a terrible thing…. unless someone comes over unaware that i made a bacon and onion based soup and thinks i need a shower…