Zuppa Tuscana

This version of Olive Garden’s famous soup uses fresh and flavourful ingredients for a delicious and rich (not something I’d eat every night) meal. The cauliflower is great for a meal that’s lower on the glycemic scale. The original recipe says to use a pan for sautéing, but you can do it all in one pot too! Serves 6-8.

2 quarts chicken stock
3 pieces pastured bacon (or reserved bacon grease)
1 onion, diced fine
3-4 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced (OR 3 c cauliflower for low glycemic version)
1 lb sweet Italian sausage (I use the sweet Italian sausage from Heritage meats)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch swiss chard or 1 bunch kale, cut into bite size pieces
2⁄3 cup organic cream
2-4 cups water
1⁄4 teaspoon ground aniseed
1⁄2-1 teaspoon salt, depending on taste
1 dash red pepper flakes
black pepper

Directions
1. Bring chicken stock and water to a light boil and add potatoes.
2. In a skillet (preferably cast iron or enameled cast iron) cook bacon until somewhat done and remove (but do not add bacon to the soup, save for a BLT or quiche).
3. Sauté the onion in the bacon rendering until almost caramelized (golden color).
4. Remove and put in boiling stock.
5. In the same skillet add olive oil and cook Italian sausage (with casings removed).
6. Add garlic with the sausage and cook until sausage is done and the consistency of ground hamburger meat.
7. Add mixture to the stock.
8. By this time check to see if potatoes are cooked by trying to squish them on the side of the stock pot.
9. When they are done reduce heat (you can see if you want to thin with the extra water at this point) and add cream and Swiss chard/kale, salt, anise, red pepper, black pepper.
10. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and a side of bread and salad.

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