Zuppa Toscana…Healthified!

September 18th 2013

zuppa2Well it’s been a while since I blogged a recipe with meat in it….but I am doing so today. I am plant based 5 days of the week, but occasionally I like to indulge in a bit of high quality, sustainable, meat. Fall is in the air, and so is SOUP SEASON! Oh man, I love making soup, my friend Heidi came by on Monday and gave me the most amazing harvest of leafy greens and other things from her garden, I was at Wholefoods today and found that they had some great local hot Italian sausage and decided I would make this soup since I was suddenly wealthy in all its main players. Zuppa Toscana is a popular menu item at Italian American restaurants (a large chain one in particular), and a total food fav for me. It apparently is for many people as I have seen numerous versions on pinterest; the good, the bad, and the ugly…haha! I wonder sometimes if some of these bloggers are really good at food photography, but not so hot on the actual product….I am very visually inspired and one of the photos that caught my eye had the most horrific recipe attached to it! This blogger used a roux and a slurry to thicken the soup instead of cream….hmmm…that is working harder not smarter…and to top it off she added two cans of evaporated milk at the end….probably should’ve done the cream at that point. I am not saying this to be bratty, I just don’t want anyone to have to over complicate or over fat a recipe. How do you feel good about feeding your family something that has as much fat in one portion as a slice of cheesecake. So I have healthified this soup, yes it has sausage, but I have removed all the other animal products (you don’t need them when the sausage provides so much condensed flavor and richness), I have included large amount of garden fresh veggies, and thickened with cauliflower puree! It was better than then the originaI! The recipe made probably 12 servings, so you only get a small amount of the meat, with loads of veggies! It may be a few days before I need to cook again though, as this makes enough to feed an army! If you like Zuppa Toscana, try this version, you will love it and no one will know it isn’t the decadent original.

Veggies from my friend Heidi's garden!! Veggies from my friend Heidi's garden!!

You will need
1 pound good quality sausage of choice, you can use whatever type you like, even soyrizo (you may just need to add a little extra oil), I used classic Italian Hot pork sausage.
2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed well and sliced as thin as possible, I use them skin and all
1 bunch lactinato Kale, chopped
1 bunch Chard
2 ribs celery, medium dice
2 carrots, medium dice
1 zucchini, sliced thin, same as potatoes.
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic smashed, and chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes, if your sausage is quite spicy you can omit this
8 Cups stock, I used veggie
1 head of cauliflower, stem removed, and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Over medium heat, in a large Dutch oven or soup pot place sausage and begin to render it of its fat. After five minutes or so add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and pepper flakes if you are using them, cook five or so more minutes, spoon off any visible oil,add potatoes and kale. Add stock, turn heat up to medium high till it is at a low boil, reduce heat, add chard and zucchini, and cover, turn heat to low. While your soup simmers, in a medium sauce pan, place cauliflower and 2 cups lightly salted water, boil for 20 minutes until very soft, then blend until smooth and creamy. Add cauliflower puree to soup, sprinkle with some fresh parsley and cracked pepper, serve! This makes a huge amount so it is perfect for freezing.