Quick and easy, lusciously creamy and delicious, made with ingredients available to everyone year round! My version of the famous Zuppa Toscana knocked my hubby’s socks off! (I swear I heard a whimper, and maybe a tear roll down, when I told him there was only one bowl left!) Isn’t it wonderful how the simplest things in life are enjoyed the most? Make a list and head to the store, because this should be YOUR supper tonight, too!
Though March is finally here, and spring is right around the corner, there’s still remnants of the last snowstorm on the ground, and that north wind still cuts to the bone like a knife! We aren’t out of winter just yet, so I though it a good time to make a few last pots of our favorite soups and stews!
And since I already had on hand almost all of the ingredients for this pot, my “almost famous” Zuppa Toscana copycat was first on the list!
We actually prefer just using frozen chopped spinach in the wintertime, because our stores are a hit or miss when it comes to good, fresh produce. You can, of course, substitute kale in this recipe, as Olive Garden’s contains. But, if the kale looks wilty and pathetic, or you just don’t particularly care for it, spinach is a fantastic sub! Fresh or frozen, it really works well in this recipe!
So, to get started, get out your big stockpot, and start some cut-up bacon. I always use lean, thick cut, platter bacon.
Fry it up until crispy, or to however you prefer it….
…and remove it to a bowl lined with paper towel. Save some aside and chop it finely. You’ll use that later for garnishing!
Leave the bacon fat right in the pot and add in some broke -up sausage. That fat will help cook it quickly and add flavor!
And don’t worry. When the sausage is fully cooked, we’ll get rid of all that grease!
Don’t over chop it up when cooking it. Try to leave it in small pieces.
Remove the grease with a spoon, add in your mushrooms, onions, and butter…
…and sauté until the onions are tender. Add some fresh garlic, and sauté 1- 2 minutes longer.
Pour in your broth, seasonings and bay leaves…
…and bring to a boil while adding in the spinach. Don’t forget to squeeze each handful dry when adding! Add most of the bacon now, too.
Bring back to a boil, and add in your potatoes.
When the potatoes are just tender, and be careful, this only takes a couple of minutes if you sliced them nice and thin. Then, just thicken it slightly with a simple cornstarch slurry.
Lastly, add in your cream and parmesan cheese.
And that’s all there is to it!
When serving, be sure to grate fresh parmesan cheese over the top, and add finely chopped bacon for a pretty garnish, too. My hubby passed on the extra bacon. I know. But I love him anyway.
My hubby is STILL talking about this soup! Yes, it was THAT good!!
And remember, you can certainly sub fresh kale if you prefer. Don’t like mushrooms? Leave them out. Just make your own pot to how you and your family prefer it!
So, if your searching for a soup to warm you up that doesn’t take a boatload of ingredients, doesn’t dirty up tons of pot ‘n pans to wash, nor all day to make, this Copycat Zuppa Toscana with Spinach, Sausage and Mushrooms is a must-have for supper tonight! Just don’t let my hubby know you’re making some, or he’ll be begging at your front door!!
Copycat Zuppa Toscana with Spinach, Sausage and Mushrooms
Makes approx. 4 1/2 quarts
6 strips lean thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. italian, breakfast, or any spicy ground sausage you enjoy
1 large yellow, white or vidalia onion
1 (8 oz.) carton fresh sliced mushrooms
2 – 3 cloves garlic, only 2 if large
3 Tbl. butter, a little more only if needed
1 (48 oz.) box chicken broth or stock
1 large bay leaf
2 Tbl. Better Than Bouillon Roast Chicken Base
1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. regular black pepper
2 large russet potatoes, halved, sliced thinly (1/4 inch thick)
1 (9 – 10 oz.) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, (can sub kale, see below)
2 Tbl. cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbl. cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus more to garnish each serving as desired)
(more salt and pepper to taste if needed)
In 6-quart stock pot, fry bacon, remove to paper towel, set aside. Leave bacon fat in pot.
Add sausage, breaking up, and fry until almost done, leaving in small chunks. Remove bacon and sausage fat and add butter. Melt butter, and add mushrooms and onions. Sauté with sausage until onions are soft. Add minced garlic and continue sautéing until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes longer.
Add chicken broth, bay leaf, chicken base, pepper flakes, italian seasoning, oregano and pepper. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to a high simmer/low boil. Add spinach and about 3/4’s of the cooked bacon.
Add potato slices and only cook until potatoes are just tender. *Only about 2-4 minutes, *depending on how thinly you sliced them. Try not to overcook them or they’ll start to break up and fall apart.
Stir in cornstarch slurry, and stir GENTLY for 1 minute.
Add cream and parmesan cheese, and remove from heat. Taste, and add more salt and pepper only if needed.
Ladle into bowls and grate more parmesan cheese on top. Further garnish with the reserved cooked bacon, finely chopped. Enjoy!
NOTE: Fresh kale can be subbed for the spinach. Just tear the leafy greens part only into large bite-sized pieces and add same as above. Cook until just tender, then continue.