Monday, December 8, 2014
This may come as a surprise to ‘die-hard’ Zuppa Toscana fans but I have never had a bowl of this - seemingly - famous soup, until today. Unbeknownst to me this is everyone’s favorite soup at the ‘Italian’ Restaurant chain Olive Garden, and though I’ve eaten there many times I’ve never had it. So why did I decide to make a vegan version? Well, the answer is really quite simple, this past week I kept seeing recipes for homemade Zuppa Toscana popping up on Facebook and other social media. My first reaction after reading the ingrieients list was ‘gross’ and ‘so unhealthy’ as the original contains loads of sausage, bacon and heavy cream, but then my second thought was ‘but what if it was vegan?’ and so for the past few days I’ve been dreaming of a veganized version of a soup I’ve never eaten, crazy right?
Today, as it happens was also a perfect day for soup as it’s quite damp, cold and rainy outside. Wonderful soup weather and so I happily set to the kitchen to try my hand at this unknown delicacy. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, something creamy, salty, smokey and spicy I guess, and really this soup did not disappoint. It’s loaded with so much delicious flavor, and made me go back for a second bowl. Further proof that food doesn’t need animal flesh or secretions to be tasty and decadent.
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1lb Vegan Italian Sausage Sliced - I used Field Roast
1 Large Yellow Onion diced
12 Garlic Cloves minced
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
4 ½ C Vegan Chicken Broth - or Vegetable Broth
6-8 Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes diced- I used 8 and made a mix of both
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 C Kale torn into bite-sized pieces
½ to 2/3 of a 15oz Can Full Fat Coconut Milk - How much you use depends on how many potatoes you use.
1-2 tsp Liquid Smoke - I used 2 tsp.
Ground Black Pepper to taste
1/4 C Minced Parsley
- Heat half the Olive Oil in the medium sized sauce pan over medium-high heat.
- When sizzling, add in the sliced Italian Sausage and cook until browned. About 5 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pot, and place on a plate, set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in the pot, and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 3-5 minutes until golden and fragrant.
- Add in the red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds, saute another 2 minutes.
- Add in the Vegan Chicken broth, the potatoes, and the salt. Bring to a boil, and cook for five minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
- Using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon crush some of the potatoes to thicken the soup. Leave some potatoes whole because you want the soup chunky, you want to crush just enough to get a nice creamy thickness.
- Once potatoes have been crushed, add in the cooked Italian Sausage, and simmer for five minutes.
- Add in the Kale, and coconut milk and simmer for an additional 6 minutes until the kale is wilted and tender.
- Turn off the heat, add in the minced parsley, and liquid smoke and stir to combine. Add in black pepper as desired and taste for seasonings, adjust as needed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving so that the flavors have time to develop.
- Enjoy with some nice crusty bread and a glass of red wine.
*** Note - Field Roast is NOT gluten-free, but you can make this soup Gluten-Free buy using a GF Vegan Sausage.***