Oh, it’s lovely. And it’s filling enough to be a one bowl meal. Even without bread. But minestra de pane is traditionally served over toasted bread so I figured that there has to be bread in this dish. Since I am not a fan of soggy bread, I served toasted bread slathered with herb butter on the side. If you’re curious about the butter, see the linked post below.
Now, the soup. What do you need. The name of the dish says the soup has kale, sausage and potato. Let me be more specific.
There are several varieties of kale. Curly-leaf kale is used here. Only the leaves though. The stalks are rather tough so you have to strip off the leaves and discard the stalks.
As for the sausage, Italian sausage is, of course, the default but there are so many kinds that it’s hard to specify exactly what is best for making zuppa Toscana. I chose Italian garlic sausage.
But in order to cook the sausage, you need bacon fat. Use belly bacon. Fatty unsweetened bacon. If you can get pancetta (Italian cured but unsmoked pork), the better.
So, you cut the bacon into small pieces and cook them until enough fat has been rendered. Scoop out the bacon to prevent the pieces from darkening too much then dump in the sliced sausage(s) and cook until starting to brown.
Throw in chopped onion, stir, cover the pot and let the onion bits sweat. You’re building up flavors here and concentrating flavors as well. By the time the onion bits have softened, the cubed potato is stirred in. The potato cubes start soaking up the flavors from the rendered bacon fat, the sausage and the onion.
Broth is poured in, the pot is covered and everything simmers together until the potatoes are cooked through. Because the potato cubes will soak up the salt in the mixture, it is best to taste the broth and add more salt or pepper, or both, before adding the kale.
After the kale has been stirred in and the leaves have wilted, cream is added and stirred in. Cream contains fat and if you boil the soup with the pot covered, the cream will curdle. And you don’t want that. You want the broth to have a creamy consistency rather than have bits of curdled cream. So, don’t cover the pot anymore at this point. Just wait for the soup to come to a simmer then turn off the heat.
Kale, sausage and potato soup (zuppa Toscana)
- 150 grams belly bacon - cut into half-inch strips
- 150 grams Italian garlic sausage - cut into thin rings
- 1 onion - peeled and chopped
- 1 large potato - peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- salt - optional
- pepper - optional
- 6 ro 8 stalks curly kale - (leaves only) roughly chopped
- ½ cup whipping cream - whipping, not whipped
- Spread the bacon on the bottom of a pan and set the heat to medium. Cook, stirring a few times, until fat has been rendered. Scoop out and set aside.
- In the rendered bacon fat, add the sausage rings and cook until fat from the sausage has been rendered as well.
- Add the chopped onion. Stir. Cover the pot, turn down the heat to low and cook until the onion bits start to soften.
- Add the potato and stir to coat each piece with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a minute or two.
- Pour in the broth. If your broth is unseasoned or underseasoned, add a bit of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the potatoes are soft.
- Stir the kale leaves into the soup and cook for a few minutes or just until wilted.
- Stir in the cream.
- Allow to reach simmering point before turning off the heat.
- Taste your kale, sausage and potato soup one last time, and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
- Stir in the bacon before serving.