I love to cook, but I don’t like spending hours in the kitchen. I like to think of myself as a Sandra Lee who was/is (not sure her show still comes on) the host of “Semi-Homemade”. I watched that show a few times and fell in love!
That’s so me. I’ll make some things from scratch, but with the way my life is set up I don’t always have time to do from scratch cooking. I live by a shortcut!
Well, I’m always trying to find new things to eat outside of my normal staples. About a year ago I came across a copycat recipe for Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscano soup. I’ve never actually eaten the soup at the restaurant, but my hubby has and said my version is better. *insert an awwwww* Seriously, he would tell me if it was bad.
The first time I made it, I made it as listed on the recipe. However, because I like to cook and I know our palates I decided to add a few twists to the recipe.
The soup is really simple to make. The first time I did it I made it on the stove, but this time I decided to whip it up in the Crock-Pot to make life even easier. God bless the person who invented the Crock-Pot.
I followed the recipe, but for the twist I added the red pepper flakes into the pot to make it spicy, I also added a frozen basil cube, mushrooms that I sautéed in olive oil with onions and put some bacon bits in the pot for the smoky flavor. OMG this was so good! Again, my husband, who is the barometer for all my cooking said it’s better than the restaurants.
- 1 pound Italian Sausage (you can use spicy or mild)
- 4-6 Russet Potatoes :bite sized cubes ( I used frozen hash browns to cut down on cutting)
- 1 Onion, minced
- ¼ cup REAL bacon pieces
- 2 tablespoons Garlic, minced
- 32 ounces Chicken Broth
- ½ bunch Kale (or Swiss chard or spinach), de-stem & cut/torn into bite sized pieces (bagged works well)
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- Mushrooms (as many as you like)
- Basil (fresh or frozen; if frozen, 1 cube)
- Brown sausage links in a pan
- Cut links in half lengthwise, then cut slices, or you can crumble them in the pan
- Place sausage, chicken broth, garlic, potatoes, onion, basil cube or a few fresh leaves and a handful of the bacon bits in slow cooker. I also add red pepper flakes at this point for the kick, but you can add it later.
- You can add water to cover the ingredients or do like I did and just add more broth to cover.
- Cook on high 3-4 hours (low 5-6 hours) until potatoes are soft.
- minutes before serving:
- Saute your mushrooms (about two handfuls or to your liking) in a tablespoon in olive oil with the sauteed onions.
- Mix flour into cream removing lumps.
- Add cream, kale and mushrooms to the crock pot, stir.
- Cook on high 30 minutes or until broth thickens slightly. Keep in mind this is NOT a thick soup.
- Add salt, pepper, and cayenne or red pepper flakes to taste.
- Serve in a bowl and garnish with bacon bits.