My daughter posted on Facebook that she was making a "creamy Italian potato (soy) sausage soup", and one of her friends suggested it would taste better if there was some real pig in it. Altho I am now fixated on my newly invented word, "Soysages", and think with her help we could invent them and make a zillion bucks off people who shun food with mothers, I must say "I LOVE MEAT". I heartily agree with the bumper sticker "If God didn't want us to eat meat, why did he make animals so delicious?" and am slightly resentful of God's rule that we can't eat it on Fridays during Lent. But I also will not stand in the way of those who do not, for whatever reason, enjoy our yummy non-human friends as long as they respect my right to carve off a hunk of Ferdinand the Bull and wave it over the barbie for my dinner.
Becky (above mentioned daughter) is a talented cook, and I know this because she has made many vegetarian and even vegan dishes that have totally not made me barf - and I'm sure that her Soysage Soup was quite tasty, even though she didn't have kale to put in it. This recipe was developed from a few I found on the internet using a search for Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana. If you've never had it there (I have not), it's like a potato soup, but with kale and spicy Italian sausage in it - it's not like a chowder, but has lots of goodies and a broth that packs a punch. There is nothing better on a crisp, cool fall night than this soup with some rustic Italian bread warmed in the oven right on the rack so the crust is crispy, then spread with some delicious sweet butter....I love butter too, but that is another blog.
Now if you're scratching any part of your body and yelling "Fer cryin' out LOUD, what the freak is KALE?" at your monitor, I am gonna learn ya. If you go to your produce section, and find the parsley, nearby there should be some other things that look like bundles of weeds or leaves. Kale is quite pretty...it's green with silvery haze over it, and the leaves are about the size of your hand but very ruffly. It's fairly tough...not like a salad green, but cooked in this soup gives it an interesting texture and flavor, and I think a little peppery-ness as well. Altho you can't tell so much with the red pepper in it....mmmm, I am SO not a spicy lover, but I will eat this and let the tears of pain rain down my face it's so good. Give it a try when the weather cools down a bit - I know some people say when it's hot, hot stuff cools you down, but people say the stupidest things sometimes....
Zuppa Toscana (Italian Kale Soup)
1 lb. Spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (or soy sausage if you must)
Olive Oil (or you can use 1/4 lb. sliced bacon, cut in 1/4" slices - more pig!)
2 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
1/2 to 1 onion, cut in quarters and sliced 1/4" thick (I love onion - use it all!)
1 bunch Kale, washed and stems removed, then cut into 1" to 2"-ish squares
4-6 Red spuds w/skins (or brown, I've used both), washed, quartered & sliced 1/4"
8 cups chicken broth (that is 2 quarts and 4 knorr chicken bullion cubes)
3 cups 1/2 and 1/2 OR two cans of evaporated milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Start cooking the bacon if you're using that, otherwise put some olive oil in a large soup pot and toss in the naked sausages. Use a paddle (or a spoon I suppose) to stir and break up into chunks, when it doesn't have much pink left throw in the garlic and onions and continue to saute until the onions gets soft, several minutes. Add the kale and cook a few more minutes until it also goes limp (could be your wrist too from all that preppin' and stirrin'), then add the broth and spuds and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium for a low boil, and cook until the potatoes are tender; add whatever dairy you've chosen , then salt and pepper to taste. If you like it more spicy, add red pepper flakes to your liking....I have used them when I didn't have spicy sausage and it worked just fine.
You could also use cream...it's probably no worse than using equal amounts of canned milk, but I choose to not think about that and don't buy it often because I can contain myself and not try to make whipped cream to eat off the beaters, the bowl, my shirt and the top of graham crackers out of evaporated milk because there is "nothing else good in the house" when I'm PMS'ing. (I just came back from the freezer with Tillamook Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream, is that wrong?)
Now go and enjoy your Zuppa Toscana with some crusty bread and sweet butter, and don't go to the Olive Garden. It just encourages more stupid commercials; going to Olive Garden does not make you a happy family any more than going to church makes you a Christian or visiting a tattoo parlor makes you a freak of nature that your mother prays for because you've mutilated your body so heinously that only other freaks will be attracted to you and she can't even show her face at Bunco anymore. Oh, and eat more pig!