Copycat Recipe

My sister Stephanie and I have always loved the Olive Garden. Since I refuse to eat salad, I sampled their soups until I found one I liked. One night, Steph decided to try the soup I was having and loved it too. Our favorite soup at the Olive Garden is Zuppa Toscana.

Back when Stephanie was in college at Wayne State, I used to hang out with her in Pile Hall dorm room. I don’t know why but we were watching Phil Donahue (Yes, I said Phil Donahue not Dr. Phil. Look it up if you don’t know who I am talking about.) I am not sure why were watching Donahue but Steph and I always had a thing for talk shows. We watched Jenny Jones, Sally Jessie Raphael, and even Geraldo Rivera. But I digress. My point was the reason we stopped the channel on Stephanie’s turn dial 13 inch television was because Donahue had some lady on making copycat recipes. She made a McDonald’s Big Mac, Hostess Twinkie, and Wendy’s  Frosty (chocolate because they only had one kind back then). We were hooked. At the end of the show, they used to provide you with information on where to send at check or money order for $2.95 to purchase your own copy of the shows transcript. (I know, we sound old but the year was actually 1993 pre-internet boom.) I’m pretty sure it was the only time either one of us ordered a transcript. We hadn’t watched the entire show so we knew we had  missed some of those recipes.

Some years later, this guy Todd Wilbur created “Top Secret Recipes” cookbooks. This guys copycat recipes are pretty on for all your favorite restaurant chains. I’ll be honest, they are one of the few cookbooks I haven’t torn apart. Today’s recipe for this delicious soup comes from one of them.

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

1/2 lb. Italian Sausage (I use ground sausage when I make it.)
3 c. fat-free Chicken Broth
3 c. fat-free Milk
2 T. minced Onion
1 T. Hormel Real Bacon Pieces
1/4 tsp. Salt
Dash of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 medium Potato, chunked
2 c. chopped Kale

Grill sausage. Combine broth, milk, onion, bacon, salt, and red pepper in a medium sauce pan over a medium/high heat. Add  potato. When mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked sausage and simmer for 1 additional hour. Serves three.

Recipe modifications:

  • I’m pretty sure this is the lighter version of the Zuppa Toscana soup. I have another version from one of his cookbooks that has half and half. Skip the calories and cook it this way. It taste the same and is healthier for you.
  • I have substituted regular spinach for kale in the recipe. It worked just as well.
  • I omitted the bacon and it tasted just fine.

One response

  1. I love OG’s Zuppa Toscana soup. Thanks for sharing this recipe so I can make it for myself. I even have all the ingredients on hand. PS I didn’t have to look up Phil Dohahue or any of the others!

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