I actually love winter weather because my cooking menu changes for the weather. I'll make casseroles, roasted chickens, pot roasts, and my favorite meal starter...soups. Soup would be my perfect mini meal, because it fills you up after one bowl, and usually everything cooks in one pot. The one pot meal always means less dishes to wash, too! This recipe is a copycat version from Olive Garden, whereas it's not my favorite Italian restaurant, but the breadsticks would make you fall in love with the waiter. I don't know how many times during dinner, I would politely ask for "more bread" or "more soup" or "more salad." You can never get enough of it, but this soup is perfect for me. I love the spicy bite from the Italian sausage, and the delicate kale floats beautifully as the perfect green. Overall, I highly enjoy the heartiness and of this soup.
Adapted from Tuscan Recipes
1 lb ground italian sausage, casings removed*I used Farmer John's breakfast links*
1½ teaspoon crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 slices of bacon, chopped
2 teaspoon garlic, minced
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb diced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
3 cups of kale, chopped
Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Parmigiano-reggiano, shredded
*Optional: Parmesan rind
1. Sauté italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, set aside while you prepare other ingredients.
2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until the onions are soft.
3. Add chicken bouillon and water to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
4. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour. Add the parmesan rind into the pot, it adds that extra cheesy essence and creamy subtle depth that you're looking for.*
5. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated.
6. Stir in the parmigiano-reggiano, sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve. Salt and pepper to taste, you might want to undersalt just a bit because the salt will break away from the rind and increase the salinity of your soup.
Review: Tastes just like the original, but better and easy to prepare at home. It was my perfect soup while I was nursing my strep throat. I love recreating meals like this at home, it makes me feel I've brought the restaurant to my kitchen. ;-)