Easy Toscana Soup


Today I want to share with you one of my favorite soups of all time. I think this recipe for Toscana soup might trump every other soup I’ll eat, ever. For the sake of trying new things – maybe one day I’ll have another favorite? But probably not. 

What’s incredible about this soup is the amount of flavor packed in, even though it has less than 10 ingredients! I think it proves that you really don’t need to make complicated foods in order to make good foods. This recipe, like just about every soup recipe, pairs excellently with some warmed and buttered Crusty Artisan Sourdough Bread.  But it’s also really good just by itself.

DO I HAVE TO USE ITALIAN SAUSAGE?

I would strongly recommend it. A lot of the flavor from the soup comes from the seasoned Italian sausage, so swapping this out for a ground beef or other type of ground, unseasoned meats won’t work well. I also would not recommend using breakfast sausage in this recipe as that will change the flavor of the soup from savory to sweet, and you don’t want that.

If a substitute is needed, I would recommend bacon instead of sausage. There is no added salt in this recipe, and that is because the broth and sausage are both already salty, especially if you use bouillon to make your broth. There is a huge amount of flavor coming from those ingredients and that is partially why this soup is so good!

CAN I MAKE THIS RECIPE DAIRY FREE?

So – yes. Traditional Toscana soup is actually quite different from what we think when we make Toscana soup today, particularly here in the U.S. It has beans, celery, carrots and even tomato in it, which this recipe does not. It also is not traditionally made with milk or cream!

I won’t name names, but you can probably blame a popular Italian food restaurant with “Olive” in it’s name for popularizing this soup with added cream/milk, and sausage (traditionally bacon is used instead). So yes, you can make this soup dairy-free by replacing the dairy with more broth, or reduce the dairy using my notes in the ingredient list below! This will give it more of a vegetable soup vibe, but it will still be soup-er tasty (sorry not sorry).

But if you’re not sensitive to dairy, then I would recommend making it just as the recipe outlines below since the milk brings a nice balance to the spiciness of the other ingredients, and also makes the soup richer in flavor.

CAN I MAKE THIS WITH SPINACH INSTEAD OF KALE?

Yes! The traditional Toscana soup (and the popular Olive Garden one) have kale in them, but I have made this soup using arugula, or spinach instead of kale if I didn’t happen to have it in my refrigerator or garden.

I sometimes will even throw in a little extra of kale, arugula or spinach just for the added nutrients!

Prep Time: 15 MIN
Cook Time: 35 MIN
Total Time: 55 MIN

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 package (1 lb) of mild italian sausage 
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil 
  • 1 medium sized onion, roughly chopped 
  • 6 medium sized red potatoes, chopped to 1” bite size pieces with skin on
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 cups of whole milk (**If desired, reduce the dairy by replacing the milk with ½ cup of heavy cream or half & half, along with 1 ½ cups of broth)
  • 3 cups of fresh kale  
  • ¼ Tsp Red Pepper Flakes (adjust to taste) 
  • Parmesan cheese 

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large soup pot, cook the Italian sausage on medium-high heat until nearly cooked through (about 8-10 minutes), breaking up the sausage with a spatula or spoon as it cooks. Add the oil and onions and continue to cook all together for 2-3 minutes until the onions begin to appear translucent. 

Once the onions are translucent and the sausage is completely cooked through, reduce the pan to medium-low heat. Add the chicken broth, red potatoes and red pepper flakes. There should be enough broth to just submerge the other ingredients. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  

After 20 minutes, add the kale and the milk. Cook on low heat for 10-15 more minutes. 

Serve immediately, topped with shredded parmesan cheese. 

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