Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Zuppa Toscana gets a make over

When my oldest daughter was little she went through what I like to call a "white food phase".  I wish I was exaggerating about just how particular she was.  If there was a speck of parsley on her pristine plate of white pasta with white cheese; she would sit there with the saddest pouty face ever and not touch it.  I would either have to send it back and try and not insult the chef who thought he or she was being a food stylist by adding that parsley masterpiece or sit there and painstakingly pick every green speck off that plate.  She was already on the thin side (sure didn't get that from her mother), so I tended to make sure we always had something on the table that met her critical eye.

I began to feel like a short-order cook, I would fix a huge dinner and then proceed to fix her a separate dinner just so she had something to eat that night.  I'm blaming the fact I did this squarely on my mother.  My younger brother (also painfully thin, and God why didn't that happen to me?) would never touch what my mom made us for dinner; he was allowed to eat a salami sandwich every night while the rest of us were forced to consume nasty stuff like liver or have our Dad yell at us (long story short, yes I still resent my Brother for being the special child, I'm totally kidding about that, well actually maybe I'm not).

Now that I'm all bent out of shape, let's move on to something more pleasant.  One place that my daughter enjoyed going out to eat was Olive Garden, not my first choice, but childhood traumas have a funny way of resurfacing at odd times.  I did however enjoy a bowl of their potato, kale and sausage soup or Zuppa Toscana as they called it. Being the picky food person I am I felt it needed a little something more (no that couldn't be where my daughter got her food issues, has to be my mother).

Zuppa Toscana Updated
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, washed, cut in half and sliced
1 pound Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 - 32 ounce box of low-sodium chicken stock
2 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
8 ounces whole crimini or button mushrooms, stems removed
5-6 ounces kale, chopped (I buy it ready to use in the bag)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup heavy cream

Heat a heavy stock pot on medium heat and add the olive oil and leek.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the leeks are wilting.   Add the sausage and break it up with a spoon and cook until browned.  Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil.  Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, kale, salt, red pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes more, until the potatoes are soft.  Add the heavy cream at the last minute and serve.

Makes 4 large servings.

This soup packs more flavor than the original and uses only the minimal amount of cream.

As for the really good news, by the time my daughter left home she would eat pretty much anything I served her and I got to quit my short-order cook job.




  1. What time will you be making this for me? Abundunza! (SP?)

  2. No worries Marlene, my Italian isn't where I'd like it to be.

  3. That's a terrific-looking soup, Gina! I'll have to try it sometime.

  4. This sounds delicious. Can't wait to make it!

  5. Hi Gina,

    100% agree that kids nowadays are really fussy with their food... *sign* And guess what? Their taste buds and cravings change a lot at different stages... and they can be giving their mums hard times cooking for them.

    This soup looks yummy... It would be a waste if your daughter can't appreciate :(


  6. What a tasty looking creation; so happy to be back to visit you Gina.

  7. Oh, I can SO relate! I live in the land of the picky people!!! But I know hubby and I would both love this soup...and the Miss could make herself a grilled cheese. I seriously giggled all the way through your post :)

  8. Of course it was your mother! Or maybe my mother - I usually blame her. ;-) Anyway, nice soup. I'd slurp it right up - I'm not a picky eater. Which, I guess, I why I'm not thin. ;-( Anyway, good recipe, fun post - thanks.

  9. A little cream in your soup, I like that;-) I'm so happy for you that your daughter learned to love green foods, they are the best;-)
    Yummy looking soup my dear;-)

  10. What is it about little green specks in food that kids hate? My 2-year old is going through that right now. Thankfully she loves her veggies so I can't complain too much. I love sausage and kale together in a soup. Hearty and perfect for a cold night!

  11. Haha that is such a cute phase (though you probably do not see it like that :P)
    A fantastic dish and story!

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. I wonder what's wrong with husband doesn't like them either. I told him the salad was DELICIOUS, tried it...his reply would be: but it's GREEN.
    The soup looks warming and delicious. Right up my alley.

  13. Gina,

    Your soup looks so good, with the leek, sausage, mushrooms, and kale. Healthy and satisfying for sure. Isn't nice that your daughter grew out of her picky stage?

    I had a picky kid, too. He couldn't have any of the foods touching each other on his plate, and he had to arrange the plate just so. My other son inhaled his food, so by the time the picky kid started eating, the other one was done, Zoom! Now. I have a picky Granddaughter:)

  14. My children were both picky eaters and all these years later, my daughter is still picky. She doesn't enjoy cooking and honestly I don't think she really enjoys eating. She does it to stay alive. WHY would I get a daughter like this? I love her to bits but she missed out on the food enjoyment gene and I got doubles.

    Your soup looks tasty and comforting and perfect.

  15. Wow that soup looks tasty. Yummy.

  16. I'm hopping on a plane right now! Or maybe I'll just whip up a pot of this for dinner this week instead...we're getting a cool snap, and hubby would LOVE this!

  17. My youngest was like that as well, especially with pasta :) Looks like a very comforting bowl of soup!
    Hope you are well...hugs!

  18. As far as I can remember I was never a picky eater...may have to ask my mom about it. My little sister was and it was such a task for my mom to get her to eat. Though often times she was forced like you by your father:) Your soup looks so good and I love all the ingredients in it.

  19. I love everything in here, especially Italian sausage and leek! Perfect meal for cold days!

  20. I totally feel your daughter's pain! :) I was a horribly picky eater and I'm sure little man will put me through the same horror I put my mother through. Love that this soup has such a small amount of cream and yet, tastes so rich!

  21. People with special needs - we all know at least one. I have learnt to prepare for the picky eater and disguise food. Though it only white food sounds rather challenging.