The biggest downside of growing up in a very small town in the middle of nowhere for me was our selection of restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, little towns have absolutely wonderful hole in the wall places when it comes to certain food, but those food choices tend to be geared toward one or two types of food rather than a smattering of choice because the population is so small. I grew up with some of the best Mexican restaurants in Northern Arizona if you ask me, but there was very little in the way of Italian or Asian style food. Any time we had to travel for a doctor’s appointment or any other trip (i.e. the mall or Wal-Mart), I was usually in hog heaven trying to decide where I wanted to have lunch or dinner.
When visiting Flagstaff as a kid, Olive Garden quickly became one of my all-time favorites. I am a serious glutton for pasta. I could eat it all day every day if given the chance (but I don’t!) And let’s be real. Who doesn’t love those buttery-garlic covered breadsticks dipped in a side of Alfredo? Getting the soup and salad lunch deal was a common purchase once I lived in a city with an Olive Garden because the price was so reasonable and I’m also a sucker for soup!
If anyone knows me, they know that I make soups. I make Mexican style soups, stews, lean and healthy soups, comfort soups, and more! One of my all-time favorites would have to be the Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden. The spicy kick with hearty potatoes mixed in with some bacon and a creamy broth? To die for! (You see why I have a problem with Olive Garden? I could eat there every day!)
My mother, a few years back, managed to get her hands on a “copycat” recipe for the Zuppa and I’ve made it a handful of times. After a while, I started to alter the recipe. I wanted to substitute ingredients to make it a healthier soup. It’s a very simple recipe and I love to know that I have a jar or two waiting in my fridge for me after I’ve already eaten too much of it. I also love knowing that having another serving isn’t going to break the bank on my calories for the day. Even with all the alterations to the recipe, I think this tastes exactly like the Olive Garden wonder of a soup. It’s great by itself as the main course or a small starter to a dinner.
Prep Time: 15 mins // Cook Time: 1 hour // Makes 8 servings
- 1 pound of ground turkey (season with Italian seasonings, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and garlic – this is all to taste.)
- 1/2 lb. smoked bacon (chopped)
- 12 cup water
- 4 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 large (or 3 medium) russet potatoes (sliced)
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 2 cups kale (chopped and packed)
- 1 cup almond milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add water and bouillon cubes to a pot and cover. Put on med-low to dissolve and bring to a boil.
- In a pan, brown the turkey, adding the seasonings as it cooks. Drain and put aside in a bowl.
- Cook the bacon in the pan, drain, and add to the turkey.
- Add the sliced potatoes, garlic, and onion to the pot. Bring to a low boil and simmer on med with the lid off until the potatoes are tender.
- Add the meats, bring to a low boil and simmer for another 10 mins.
- Add the kale and milk, season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. There is no need to bring back to a boil, just warm it through, and it’s ready to serve!