Don’t you just love soup in the winter? It is one of the few redeeming things about winter, in my opinion. Because at this point I think we can all agree winter isn’t just that magical anymore! The snow in my backyard is crusty, my car is beyond dirty and my pasty skin could use a little sun 🙂 But back to soup…it’s awesome. I especially love making it in the slow cooker to let it simmer all day and bring wonderful smells into my kitchen.
This soup is a copy cat of the Olive Garden favorite. But I really believe this soup was better than the restaurant! It has tons of flavor from the sausage and bacon and I love the slight crispness from the kale. My kids and husband and I had this downed in just a few minutes the other day. If you’re serving a crowd, make sure to double it!!
Easy Slow Cooker Recipe for Zuppa Toscana
Makes 4-6 servings
Ideal slow cooker size: 4-5 quart
Cooking time: 6 hours on low, 3 hours on high
1 lb ground Italian sausage (I used mild)
4 cups chicken broth (or if you’re in a pinch use 4 cups of water with 4 tsp of chicken bouillon)
1 cup water
1/4 cup diced onion
3 large russet potatoes, cubed (I left the skins on mine and it tasted great, but peel if you prefer)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup real bacon bits, plus more for topping (I just use the packaged bacon bits for convenience, but if you want to fry up some bacon and crumble it that would be awesome)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 bunch of Kale
Parmesan cheese, for topping
1. In a pan, over medium high heat brown the ground sausage until well done. Drain off all grease and place sausage in a colander. Rinse the sausage with very hot water to get as much grease off as possible. Add the rinsed sausage to the slow cooker.
2. Add broth, water, onion, potatoes and garlic to the slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for about 6 hours, or until potatoes are tender. You can also cook on HIGH for about 3-4 hours.
4. Stir in 1/3 cup bacon bits. Warm the cream and then add it to the slow cooker (to prevent curdling make sure it’s warm).
5. Cut up kale into coarse pieces* (I liked my pieces kind of large and chunky but if you like them more indiscernible cut them small) and add to the slow cooker.
6. Ladle into serving bowls and top with extra bacon bits and Parmesan cheese.
*I lay a piece of kale on a cutting board and then cut off the leaf portion and discard the rib and stem. It’s kind of time consuming but the stem is bitter and tough…you won’t want to eat it.