Zuppa Toscana means "soup in the style of Tuscany". It used to be my favorite Olive Garden soup, well at least it was 20 years ago. I never forgot the flavors and decided to try and replicate a healthier version. Olive Garden's version is made with heavy cream, chicken stock, parmesan cheese, and italian sausage. Mine is made with vegetable stock, no cream or cheese, crushed fennel seeds to infuse the herbed flavor in italian sausage and I recently started adding Beyond Meat "beef" crumbles to it. I know when my husband (who eats meat and cheese) asks me to make it over and over again that I did good.
Did I mention how easy this was to make? Start to finish, it will maybe take you an hour. And it is comforting and perfect for fall and winter. It's pure and simple peasant food, which is the best kind. It's also extremely flavorful, just as it is. I add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to give it a little bite.
It starts as all good soup do...in a large enamel soup pot. I own two Le Creuset enamel "dutch ovens" and have owned them for about 15 years. They still look as good as new and they clean and cook like a dream. Use them on the stove top or in the oven. Trust me, pass on the cheap version of these and buy the real deal. Here's a link to them:
Back to the soup. Start by sauteing your onion, garlic, and seasonings to condense your flavors.
Add your diced potatoes and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a soft boil and cook for 15 minutes. While that is cooking, destalk your kale and chop into bite-sized pieces. After the 15 minutes are up, add the chopped kale and (if you are using) "beef" crumbles. Stir them in and continue to cook the soup for an additional 10 minutes.
Ladle into a big bowl and serve with a chunk of gluten-free french bread.
I know you are going to be tempted to "unveganize" this. You will want to use chicken stock, add real italian sausage, and grate some fresh cheese on top. Don't. Try it as it is. Would yours be more flavorful? Possibly. But mine is so much better for you and the flavors are beautiful as they are. You will love it and your body will love you for keeping it light and simple. Enjoy!
Time: 1 hour
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 c. chopped vidalia onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. corse ground pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
6 c. diced yukon gold potatoes
7 c. vegetable stock
7 (loose) c. chopped, destalked kale
2 c. pea protein, vegan beef crumbles (I like Beyond Meat)
In a large enamel soup pan, sauté olive oil and chopped onion for about 4 minutes, then add the minced garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, crushed red pepper and crushed fennel seeds. Sauté another 4-5 minutes until onions are translucent.
While the onions are sautéing, wash and dice the potatoes—not bothering to peel. Add the diced potatoes and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce head to a low boil and cook for 15 minutes.
While that is cooking, wash and destalk your kale and rough chop to bite sized pieces. Add to your soup after your 15 minutes are up. Also add the vegan beef crumbles and stir the kale and crumbles in to the soup mixture. Cook the soup for an additional10 minutes to finish.