Friday, January 23, 2009

zuppa tuscana

For as long as I can remember, my mother's potato soup has been a major comfort food for me. It is so, so delicious and incredibly memory-invoking. I literally can eat bowls upon bowls of it in one sitting. This soup to me is a rainy day with pjs, a cuddly blanket, and a good book. It is sitting at my window, watching a creosote-scented, New Mexico thunderstorm.

Needless to say, I LOVE my mother's potato soup. While in college, I called to get her recipe. I can guarantee it was a raining when I called. My mom's recipes are always really vague {a little of this, a half a dozen or so of these, etc.} because she's naturally a good cook. That or she's been one long enough to disregard measurements. {Side note: This made learning from her as a kid difficult because I am absolutely NOT this way. I'm all about stirring, measuring, and exactness- at least in the beginning. Some might say anal. I say perfectionist.}

The point is: My recipe started with hers.

It became my own {and then only in a copy-cat kind of way} when I discovered Olive Garden's Zuppa Tucsana, loved IT, and thought, "This is practically Mom's potato soup, just with a few added ingredients!" So I added a bit, altered a bit, and came up with this. I love it. And so will you.

RECIPE: Zuppa Tuscana (My Version)

Serves: 12
Calories: 202

6 med-lg potatoes
2-3 c. chopped carrots
2 cubes chicken bullion, "smooshed"
1 lb Italian sausage (I like Jimmy Dean the best.)
3 Tbsp. Real Bacon Bits
1 large onion, diced
1 can evaporated milk
1/3 cup milk
1/3 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese *divided
kale, de-stemmed and chopped
salt/pepper, to taste

Directions:Wash and slice/dice potatoes (the thinner/smaller, the quicker they cook). Put in a large pot and cover with water (about 10 c.). Toss in the carrots, bacon and chicken bullion, too. Boil until tender, stirring occasionally (to make sure they don't burn to the bottom). Using a potato masher, just mash up the potatoes a little in the water (sometimes my spoon does the trick, too).

While the potatoes boil, brown Italian sausage and onions in a frying pan. Drain if desired (I don't.).

Put the sausage/onion mix into the potato pot. Add the evaporated milk, milk, Parm cheese and the kale. Add lots of pepper and salt to taste. Warm (don't boil at this point) until the kale is bright green and the whole thing is warm/hot.

Serve warm, sprinkled with even MORE Parmesan cheese if desiered... and ENJOY!

PS. I've also used like 2 tsp. of minced garlic in it, and it was yum that way, too.

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