Zuppa Tuscana Soup

Every once in a great while, my husband and I like to eat at Olive Garden. When I am there, I inevitably choose the same thing every time: Zuppa Tuscana soup (I feel Italian just saying the name!), salad and breadsticks. Yum, it is so good! So, when I found this homemade version of it. I knew I had to try it and I am pretty satisfied with it!

For the longest time, I never knew what the leafy vegetable was called that is in the soup, but it is kale. Now I know that kale is one of the healthiest vegetables for you to eat! When steamed lightly, it helps lower your risk for various cancers such as bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate cancer. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits. Of course, you'll want to consume it on a regular basis to reap the most benefit from it. Zuppa Tuscana soup is a tasty and easy way to incorporate it into your diet!

I have never seen kale at the grocery store, but I guess it must be there. I've only purchased it at local farmer's markets. This past weekend I picked up a large handful of organic kale for only $1! I also got the dinosaur kale at the market and actually used that in my soup this week. (Dinosaur kale isn't as ruffly as the usual kale that you will find and it has a sweeter taste and smoother texture to it. It also tends to be a big hit with your kids and may even get them to like it better. It worked with my kids! They thought it was named this because it looks like dinosaur feet.)

I blanched and froze what I have left from the market since after this season I'm sure I'll be hard-pressed to find organic kale for $1/bunch! I would have bought more, but had never blanched and frozen it before so wanted to give it a try before I had oodles of kale and didn't know what to do with it. I've heard you can also dehydrate it, but haven't tried that yet.

Anyways, to prepare for blanching, rinse your kale under cold water. Then fold the leaves together (see the picture) and run a sharp knife along the spine of the leaf. Discard the spine. This method worked fine for my dinosaur kale. For the more ruffly kind of kale, I  just tear it off the stem because it seemed to be a bit more holey from bugs and I wanted to be sure to tear all the bad pieces off.

Then I plunged it into a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. I use a spaghetti ladle to remove it and then put it in a strainer before transferring it  to a large bowl of ice water. (You want to stop the cooking process). Then I put it in salad spinner (love my Pampered Chef one!) and finally place it in a freezer bag.

Love those jars of salsa in the background there??
My husband and I made those--16 pints and 7 quarts! Glad they are done!!

So, as for the recipe, it is a great recipe to double and freeze a batch for later. It's always a favorite of mine at this time of year because I can buy most of the ingredients locally for a great price. I especially try to get organic potatoes because I read once in Prevention magazine that potato farmers grow their own potatoes separate from the ones they sell because even they won't eat them because of all the fungicides sprayed on them! Nice.

As for variations on this recipe, I use the maximum amount of garlic because we love it. Also, instead of mincing the garlic, I use my Pampered Chef Garlic Press. This saves a lot of time. I also leave the peel on the potatoes and slice them rather than chopping them. I hope you like the soup as much as we did!

You can get the recipe here.

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