Winter is my favorite time to cook, because….
To me, there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of creamy soup with a side of crusty bread to cozy up with on a cold winter night.
At the same time, I like to make it a little healthier whenever I can — without losing the flavor or satisfying creaminess of a rich soup. When I posted a photo of this Olive Garden inspired sausage soup on Instagram, it got a great response. Though, the people gathered at the dinner table were even more excited about it.
So, here’s my version of the Olive Garden sausage soup recipe, aka Zuppa Toscana, with a tasty twist.
PSST! Here are some tips to make creamy soup healthier
We absolutely love food, and the richer the better — at least as far as taste goes. But, those heavy, cream based soups pack on calories we just don’t want. So, we’ve found some ways to make a rich, creamy soup a little bit healthier.
I’m not saying these are weight watchers, zero point soups! Just a bit healthier. You know?
- When making a cream based soup, like this sausage soup recipe, cook the soup with stock and add just enough cream before serving to make it creamy. That’s what I did with this recipe. No butter. No roux.
- Brown meats, like sausage and bacon, until they caramelize for the most flavor. Then, drain off as much fat as you can before adding the rest of the soup ingredients. It’s amazing how much flavor the caramelization provides — you don’t even miss the calories.
- Use reduced sodium or salt free stock for the soup base. You can always add salt to taste, but it’s hard to take unneeded salt out of an already prepared soup. I used sodium free chicken stock in this recipe. The bacon, sausage and parmesan added plenty of salt for our tastes. You can always adjust in the last couple of minutes and add a pinch or two as needed.
- Sneak in the veggies where you can. Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipes don’t usually include tomato, but I like adding it where I can. Tomato goes so well with every other ingredient in this soup, and it adds vitamins and antioxidants for a healthy boost. The same holds true for the spinach — another vitamin rich superfood.
Easy Creamy Sausage Soup
- dutch oven or heavy pot with lid
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- 12 oz bulk Italian sausage
- 6 slices bacon (we use uncured)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (more or less as desired)
- 32 oz unsalted, chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes (not drained)
- 4 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
- 6 oz fresh spinach
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan (plus more for garnish)
- Cook the sausage in dutch oven or heavy pot until browned and crumbly, then drain and set aside.
- While sausage cooks, dice the bacon and the onion.
- Add bacon to the pot and cook until crisp, then add onion, crushed garlic, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper.
- Continue cooking until onion is clear, then drain off excess fat.
- Return sausage to the pot and add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes and water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
- While the soup is heating, thinly slice the potatoes with the mandolin and then add to the soup.
- Allow soup to simmer until the potatoes are tender. They will break up a bit and make the soup creamy.
- Once the potatoes are cooked through, add the spinach and cook just until wilted.
- Taste and add salt if needed, a pinch or two at a time.
- Add the cream, stir and heat through (about 2 minutes).
- Stir in 1/2 cup of parmesan just before serving.
- ENJOY! This soup stores well, just reheat slowly so the cream doesn't break.
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You might also like these recipes:
- Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta Bake — One pot. One baking dish. One quick, delicious dinner!
- Air Fryer Roasted Potatoes — This side dish is quick, easy and delicious. It’s one of our family favorites!
- Cranberry Mustard Dipping Sauce — This quick dip is a fresh, bright dipping sauce to go with chicken, turkey or sausage.