Toscana Soup

It's no secret, I'm a soup lover, and Toscana soup is definitely in my top three favorites right now (the other two are Chicken Noodle and Egg Drop).  It's a go-to pretty much any time of the year (if you like comfort in a bowl like I do).  I first fell in love with "Zuppa Toscana" at Olive Garden, but over the years have developed my own recipe (and used it pretty loosely).  It's one of those recipes that I've made so many times I don't actually measure anything.  Sometimes I add more cream, sometimes I use half and half instead... sometimes I use ground turkey and add fennel (to make up for that loss of flavor of the sausage).  Even though the "meat and potatoes" are usually the star of any dish, my favorite ingredient in this recipe is the kale.  It cooks quickly, so when you add it at the end, it turns this beautiful, bright green color - hey, the eyes DO feast first - not to mention it's a superfood (and oh-so-delicious).  Toscana Soup 16 oz. package of Italian sausage ( I use the Owens brand)DSC_0739 3-4 cloves garlic, minced 1 medium onion, diced 2 celery ribs, sliced into half moons 2-3 carrots, peeled and finely diced 1-2 medium russet potatoes, diced (I don't peel mine because I like the peel, but you can) 4 c. chicken stock 2 c. water 1/2 c. heavy cream 1 bunch of kale (about 6 cups, loosely chopped with center vein removed) extra virgin olive oil (maybe) DSC_0731First, add the sausage to a large stockpot and brown on medium-high.  Once cooked through, transfer to to a paper-towel lined plate. DSC_0732 Add garlic to the pan (without cleaning it), supplementing with extra virgin olive oil if necessary (so it's not so dry that it burns).  Cook for about 1 minute (until fragrant). DSC_0741Add chopped onions, carrots, and celery to the pot, stirring occasionally.  Cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. DSC_0743Slowly add chicken stock, water and potatoes over high heat.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to med-low.  Simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through. DSC_0748Add heavy cream and stir well. DSC_0745Add kale and stir occasionally.  It will turn bright green when it's al dente (my favorite). DSC_0746Add pepper to taste (usually I don't need to add salt - the sausage and chicken stock will add a lot of saltiness to it) and serve with crusty bread slices (optional). There you go!  A hearty soup that's perfect for winter (or anytime of the year for me)...  Hope you enjoy! DSC_0151