Okay, so there really isn't enough good things that I can say about this soup. I actually made my first attempt at this soup last year (at least I think it was last year... though it could have been the year before.) My in-laws were in town and I knew that this soup from Olive Garden happened to be one of his favorites. Since he's a health conscious individual such as myself, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at making a healthier version of it for him.
I hadn't had the soup before, so I couldn't say at the time if it was anything similar to the one that he was used to, but he did have a couple of bowls of it for dinner! Me? I was anything but a fan. Why? One word. Kale.
Yes, I've ranted on before about my strange love/hate relationship with kale. And, this is basically where the hate part of that started.
In my mind, greens in your soup should be soft and wilted... not still firm and textured with it's weird curly little ends. Kale is better raw and hidden in a salad or baked up crisp in the form of a chip. Not in my soup. Get out of my soup!
When I set out to make this soup again, I was sure to use spinach instead of kale. But, that was to suit my own tastes and for no other reason aside from that. If you're a fan of kale in your soup, feel free to use that instead of the spinach. I also lightened this soup up by using turkey sausage and a fat free half & half instead of heavy cream. Of course, I also substituted regular bacon for my usual low sodium center cut version; which is lower in fat and salt without feeling like your not getting your bacon fix.
I had intentions of swapping out half of the potato for some cauliflower, but since I was attempting to achieve something more similar to the restaurant classic, I ended up deciding against it this time around. Though, I have great plans for doing so with my next batch.
The end result was blissful and no one will ever be able to tell that this soup is a lightened up version. This warm and rather hearty soup was the perfect way to end a chilly winter day here in Texas. And I absolutely can't wait to make it again.
Skinny Zuppa Toscana
Servings: 6 • Size: About 1 1/2 Cup • Calories: 201.2 • Fat: 6.7 g • Carb: 18 g • Fiber: 2.4 g • Protein: 15.8 g • Sugar: 6.8 g • Sodium: 940.7 mg
4 Slices Center Cut Low Sodium Bacon, Chopped
3 Links Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage, Removed from Casing
1 Medium White Onion, Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
4 C. Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Large Russet Potatoes
3 C. Baby Spinach
1 1/2 C. Fat Free Half & Half
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Place the bacon into a large soup pot or dutch oven and cook over medium heat until cooked and crispy.
Remove the bacon to a dry paper towel and set aside to use for garnish.
Place the sausage into the pot with the bacon grease and cook until nearly cooked through.
Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the sausage is browed and the onions are translucent.
Once the veggies are tender and the meat is cooked, add in the chicken broth and potatoes and bring it all to a bowl.
Reduce the heat down to medium and simmer to cook for about another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Finally, toss in the spinach and pour in the heavy cream. Heat through for a minute or two and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from the heat and serve right away with a sprinkle of the bacon.