Olive Garden is one of my favorite restaurants, however when you’re dairy free and gluten free there’s a lot of things on the menu that are off-limits. One of these famous items is the Zuppa Toscana soup, which has milk and/or cream in it. Both my husband and I love the Zuppa Toscana, so I went about creating my own recipe that wouldn’t make me sick but would also satiate our cravings for this unique soup.
This recipe has almond milk, which gives it a little creaminess, and the potatoes add to the heartiness. I love having a filling soup recipe that doesn’t have beans in it! It’s also one of the few recipes I have with green vegetables in it that my husband will eat. 🙂
Brown 1 pound of ground sausage in a large pot.
I usually use one roll of mild pork sausage, but if you like your sausage spicy, you can find a hot pork sausage to use instead. If you don’t like any spiciness, don’t use ground beef (I tried that – tastes way different!) – just leave out the crushed red pepper that comes later in the recipe.
I used to brown my sausage in a little bit of olive oil until I realized that water works just as well, only water costs basically nothing and has less calories! So to keep your sausage from sticking to the bottom of your pot, and about a quarter cup of water beforehand.
Add 4 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water to the pot and turn heat to high.
I used to always use chicken bouillon cubes in place of chicken broth, until I realized they contained wheat in them! You really never know what products contain gluten in them until you read every last ingredient on the label. Chicken bouillon cubes are much more compact and cheaper, but now I get Kroger’s carton of low-sodium chicken broth. Always make sure that your broth is gluten-free (if you need it to be), as even some cartons will contain traces of wheat in them as well.
While you are waiting for your pot to boil, chop up your potatoes and mince your garlic.
Once pot boils, add 4 chopped medium potatoes and 4 cloves minced garlic.
If you prefer, you can also peel your potatoes before chopping them. The peels have extra nutritional value and my husband and I don’t mind them, so we usually leave them on – it’s less work for me that way as well! As for the garlic, the most nutritional way is unfortunately not the easy way out. If you want to have all of the health benefits of garlic, you will need to use fresh garlic, and mince it yourself with a knife or a garlic press. My garlic press is one of my favorite tools in my kitchen! Mincing garlic is so time consuming, so if you’re a fan of fresh garlic I would strongly recommend getting one!
This is the one that I use, it’s a little more expensive but I love the OXO brand and it has a grooved back that you can use for quick and easy clean-up! Again, such a time saver.
Let your potatoes and garlic boil until soft – about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up one large bunch of kale.
Kale – the hipster’s favorite leafy green. And for good reason! This beauty has over 1000% of your Vitamin K for every 3/4 cup (which is about how much is in one serving of this soup), plus 272% of Vitamin A and 68% Vitamin C – oh and it only adds 28 calories. Vitamin K helps bone and heart health, and Vitamin A helps with immunity, vision and reproduction.
Add chopped kale and 1 tsp. crushed red pepper.
Depending on how you like your veggies cooked, you can let your pot boil more or less than 3 minutes. For me, 3 minutes is a happy medium because the kale is no longer crunchy but it’s not completely wilted either.
If sausage is enough spice for you, leave out the crushed red pepper.
Remove from heat and add 1 cup almond milk.
I have two favorite brands of almond milk: Almond Breeze (pictured) and Silk. They both give a creamy taste without too much added sugar. And yes, that is an R2-D2 measuring cup. It’s a part of a set that is a perfect gift for a fan of the “old” Star Wars movies! Check it out here:ThinkGeek Star Wars R2-D2 Measuring Cup Set – Body Built from 4 Measuring Cups and Detachable Arms Turn Into Nesting Measuring Spoons – Unique Kitchen Gadget
Once you’ve stirred in your almond milk, you’re ready to serve your fancy Italian soup!