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For Meatless Friday, Elizabeth Tomlin serves up a vegetarian version of a restaurant favorite.

Have you ever tried Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana? I know you have, because there are about a million Pinterest hits for “lookalike zuppa toscana.” It’s a savory wonder of sausage, cream, and kale. However, if your aim is meatless Friday, sausage as a key ingredient is the wurst idea. (Yeah, I went there.) This recipe incorporates spices from the sausage so that you get the savory flavor. It incorporates white beans for protein. It’s a hearty soup that’s great for fall.


Zuppa Toscana Vegetarian Style

1 Spanish onion, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste)
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 ½ tsp ground fennel
1 tsp ground sage (2 Tsp fresh, minced)
1 tsp ground thyme (1 Tsp fresh, minced—remove the twiggy parts)
8 cups chicken stock
1 pound mini Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into fourths
2 14-ounce cans of cannellini beans
6 cups kale diced small with ribs removed. Just use the leafy parts
1 cup heavy cream (Use coconut milk or oat milk if you want to make this dish Whole 30 compliant)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

In a Dutch over or soup pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic on medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the salt to draw the water out of the onion. Don’t let the onion or garlic brown. Stir in the dry spices: black pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel, sage, and thyme. Then add the chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a low boil for five minutes. Add the drained cannellini beans, reduce heat to low, and allow the soup to simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes so that the flavor combine. Add the kale and allow soup to simmer for 15 more minutes. Just prior to serving, add the heavy cream and remove the soup from the heat. Do not boil the soup after adding the cream or the cream may curdle. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

For #MeatlessFriday, serve up a vegetarian version of a restaurant favorite. You won't miss the meat! #catholicmom

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Copyright 2022 Elizabeth Tomlin
Images: Canva