Zuppa Toscano inspired soup

The holidays are filled with Christmas parties, platters of cookies, family events with ham and turkey, and other scrumptious sweet and savory options. Another thing I associate with the holidays are soups. They're a great way to reuse your leftovers and to have a lighter offering between your holiday calendar events. Typically soups come together fairly easily so that's another plus.

For all these reasons and more we're sharing a soup recipe today! I found it on a blog that I read and they posted it as a copy cat recipe for Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscano soup. I can't lay any claim to whether or not this is that because I'm not sure I knew Olive Garden had a Zuppa Toscano soup! However after reading through the ingredients I knew this would be something that Patrick and I would enjoy. My instincts were right and we loved the soup!

We adjusted a few things from their recipe so I've made those changes below. We served it with homemade sourdough rolls.

Zuppa Toscana Soup 
   Chris Loves Julia's Olive Garden Copy Cat Recipe | Servings 4-6

1/2 cup chopped bacon, fat trimmed
4 uncooked links of sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, small dice
2 stalks celery, small dice
1 bay leaf
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
4 medium Yukon gold, washed and diced about 1/4" thick 
dash of red pepper flake
1 cup low fat milk
4 kale leaves, thick rib parts removed, leaves washed thoroughly and cut into 1 inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste

   Preheat a large stock pot on medium-high heat. Add the bacon to the heated pan and cook until beginning to crisp.
   Add the sausage and break it up using a wooden spoon. Cook thoroughly. Use a paper towel to soak up some grease (or remove sausage / bacon from the pan to drain). Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until onion begins to become translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add the chicken stock, water, and bay leaf then bring to a boil. Once boiling add the potatoes and red pepper flake. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
   Finally add the cream and stir, then add the kale. Cover the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Do you have a favorite copy cat recipe of anything?

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