BSI Entry: Zuppa Toscana alla Mara

If you’ve ever been to the Olive Garden (or the O.G. as we call it), you’ve probably seen Zuppa Toscana on their menu. It’s one of the things they’re famous for there, in addition to the oh-so-fabulous breadsticks and salad. Adam LOVES this soup. I’m new to it, and I absolutely LOVE it. Too bad that it has heavy cream, pork Italian sausage, bacon…and all sorts of other goodness that isn’t exactly healthy.

When Beadie revealed this week’s BSI contest, I figured that there was no time like the present to attempt to recreate this soup with a healthier twist. After looking over a few recipes online, I thought I had a good idea as to what was in the “real” version of the soup. Off to the store I went, and I have to say, I did a fantastic job!

Even better than the O.G.!

Even better than the O.G.!

Zuppa Toscana alla Mara (serves 6)

Ingredients

1 lb. turkey hot Italian sausage

5 small potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

5 slices center-cut bacon, cut into small pieces

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

6 cups chicken stock

5 kale leaves, deveined and cut into small pieces

1/4 c. fat free half & half

Directions

Remove the sausage from its casing and brown in a large pot, stirring to crumble. Once it’s cooked, drain and set aside. Then, add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan, reserving about 1 Tbsp. fat in the pan. Add the garlic and onion and cook until nearly caramelized. Then add the potatoes, and chicken stock to at least 1/2″ above the potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer about 20 minutes or until potatoes are done. Return bacon and sausage to the pot and add the kale. Cook another 10 minutes and then stir in the half & half. Serve and enjoy!

This had a nice kick to it, and was just as rich and hearty as the restaurant’s version. Here’s some nutrition comparison:

Olive Garden Version (serving size 1 c.): Calories: 335, Total Fat: 23.7g, Fiber unknown

Mara’s Version (serving size 2 c.): Calories: 331, Total Fat: 12 g, Fiber: 4.3 g

So needless to say, my version is significantly healthier and even tastier! There’s nothing like making something yourself and having it taste better than out!

Yesterday, Miss Eating Bender gave me my very first blogger award! It originated with Julz, whose blog I just found. She is truly a talented writer and has one of the most genuine spirits I’ve ever had the pleasure of “knowing.” So thank you Julz for starting this award, and thanks to Eating Bender for passing it along!

Thanks so much! I'm honored!

Thanks so much! I'm honored!

It’s now my duty to pass this fantastic award on to more people, and I’m choosing:

  1. Lindsay at Love of Oats for hosting my first guest post.
  2. Biz at Biggest Diabetic Loser for being my most local blogger buddy
  3. Michelle at LuckyTasteBuds for leaving me the sweetest comments!
  4. Hallie at HealthyTwists for loving obscure Jewish holidays as much as I do!
  5. And finally, to Beadie at What I Ate Yesterday, for being a true and sincere friend, always being there to be a helpful ear, and sharing my successes and failures without judgement.

You have all impacted me in some way, and I’m truly grateful for each and every one of you, mentioned above or not! Thank you for welcoming me into this blogger community and helping me re-find my love of writing.

Being Thursday night, I’m off to immerse myself in the truly unrealistic Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice crossover episode finale! Have a great night!

xoxo,

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20 thoughts on “BSI Entry: Zuppa Toscana alla Mara

  1. Just wanted to say “hi”…I am also a teacher in the Chicago area. Love your recipes! I can’t wait to try your tamale pie…it looks delicious!!

  2. I LOVE that soup. I’d been eating it for years before I realized the green stuff in it was kale. I was always wondering if a healthy version was even possible.

    THANKS so much for the award! You are so sweet, my MOT sister šŸ™‚

  3. awww thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOO much mara!!!!!!!!!!! definitely made my Friday šŸ™‚ bill would LOVE this recipe – i gotta try it!

  4. Pingback: This Week’s BSI Ingredient IS… « What I ate Yesterday

  5. The soup looks great. I’m scared of Kale though! I guess I should try it again since its probably been about 20 years since I’ve tasted it!

  6. oh my gosh…I think my face is on FIRe from blushing. I reaaally don’t deserve the creative blogger award (i don’t come CLOSE to your blogging standards) hahah but WOW how i appreciate it. That just…made my day!! Thank you!!!

    OH! And I wanted to say- Gnu pB bars ARE good! I didn’t realize you couldn’t get the ones in the purple wrappers around here!! GRRRRRR.

    Have a fabulous weekend!! Gosh..THANK YOU again! I don’t even know what to say. ā¤

  7. This is going to sound REALLY silly, but I really have no idea what I’m supposed to do with the lovely award!! How…do I get to put it on my site? hahaha

  8. Thanks for the shout out Mara! Your soup looks delicious! I have fallen in love with FF half and half – its so rich and creamy!

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