Well, it is officially here, and I don’t mean just the holidays. I mean the time of year when everyone pulls out that special recipe, the traditional food that comes around just once a year. If you’re anything like my family, we pretend like we have never seen (insert food item of the day here) before and end up eating until we are stuffed, retiring to the couch, promising not to do that again tomorrow.
Well, even if you don’t celebrate the holiday food craze like my family does, I am sure everyone has a favorite side dish that is so indulgent, so wonderful, it must only be brought out on feasting days. As I was racking my brain for this month’s Recipe Redux theme- vintage family favorites- this recipe landed quite literally in my lap.
This soup, a knock-off of Olive Garden’s creation, was developed by a dear friend to both BL and my Momma-in-law. As Thanksgiving is only a day away, it’s the perfect time to stop and reflect on those people (and food, it’s OK to reflect on food right?) who mean the world to us. Rita, who originally crafted this wonderful recipe, prepared everything with love. Because she is no longer with us, what better way to pay tribute and honor the legacy of a woman so revered for her cooking than by re-creating one of her classics. Whether it was an extra half cup of this or a dash of that, she turned any recipe into her own.
Let’s get to it, shall we? Here is the Original Recipe:
Zuppa Tuscano Soup by Rita Mae Greisen
1# Italian Sausage or links
2 medium potatoes diced
¾ cup onion diced
6 slices bacon
1 ½ tsp minced garlic
2 cups kale leaves cut up
2 T chicken base
1 ½ quarts water
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp or 1 tsp red pepper flakes depending on how hot you like it
Cook sausage. Place onions and bacon in frying pan over medium heat and cook until the onions are transparent, add garlic and stir. Remove and crumble bacon. Put the water in a kettle and add the chicken base and potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Add all of the other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.
Clearly, a few changes had to happen. First, making it vegetarian. I swapped the Italian sausage for soyrizo. Don’t like or can’t find soyrizo? You can either omit it or sub baked tofu, tempeh sausage, or the like.
I also swapped out heavy cream for cashew cream, a simple trick I often do to mimic the taste of real cream without the extra cholesterol and calories. If your reading this and thinking “Cashew cream? Girl, you’re crazy”. Well, yes but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. While it may not be as low in calories as some other cream swaps, the mouthfeel and texture can’t be beat.
I also like things a tad on the spicy side. Whether it increases your metabolism or not, I notice that I eat less and feel more satisfied if food has a spicy kick to it.
I really, really enjoyed this soup. A perfect addition to my ‘I now make a soup every Sunday’ routine. BL enjoyed it too, although he said there was too much kale in it.
I simply looked at him and in my deepest, scariest voice said: “there is never too much kale.”
Recipe Redux: Zuppa Toscana
- 3 tbsp. Earth Balance butter
- 1 package Soyrizo
- 2 potatoes, diced
- 10 oz. kale
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes (or less)
- 2 T vegetable base
- 1¾ quarts water
- ½ cup cashews
- Heat the EB butter in a soup-pan over medium-high heat.
- Once melted, add the chopped onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
- Cook until onions are translucent and cooked down.
- Add the chorizo. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, stir in and continue to cook another 5 minutes until potatoes are slightly softened.
- Add the vegetable base, water, and reduce heat to low for 25 minutes until potatoes are cooked all the way through.
- Add the kale and cook another 2-3 minutes until kale is just wilted.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cashew cream, recipe below.
- Cashew Cream: ½ cup cashews (soaked in water for at least 30 min., drained)
- Blend in a high powered blender/food processor until completely smooth about 2-3 minutes depending on power of your blender.