Slow Cooker “Tuscan Cream Soup” (ripped off from BIG CHAIN ITALIAN RESTAURANT)

November 28, 2015

This brings me back to shortly after college, when my best friend from high school and I were still living in our hometown, and we were rather at loose ends with ourselves (I eventually wised up and moved back East) – and we would often drown our sorrows at *Big Chain Restaurant* that always offered unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks at weekday lunch (yeah, you know who I’m talking about).

There’s actually tons of recipes for this soup – it is a DAMN good soup, and actually quite easy to make – but I didn’t want to actually babysit a pot of soup, so I had to figure out a slow cooker version.  Everything is approximate, since I actually left the house while the soup was cooking away – but this is a little bit of nostalgia in a bowl.  And also saving me tons of money and time, because there’s actually not one of those restaurants near me, and I’m not really willing to drive for like half an hour (with no traffic) just to get this soup.

The Goods:

1 lb hot italian sausage (or mild if you prefer, but Hi, have you MET me?)

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced

good olive oil, a couple glugs

garlic. lots.  I’d say at least 4 Tablespoons minced, but I just glop it out of my big jar of pre-minced garlic.

2 quarts chicken broth/chicken stock

1 bag cut kale (you might want to actually cut it down further, the pieces are freakin’ huge which makes it a little hard to eat.  Also, this is likely WAY TO MUCH KALE for the normal person, but I happen to really love kale.)

2 large-ish russet potatoes

1 pint heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

oh, and you’ll need a big slow cooker.  Mine is like… 6 quarts…? and it was FULL TO THE TOP.  Like, I had to smush down the raw kale to get the lid on.

The Method:

Get your slow cooker going on low. start heating your chicken broth.

In a large frying pan, heat your olive oil, and sautee your garlic and onions until slightly soft.

Peel the sausage out of its casings and cook in the pan with garlic and onions, breaking it up as it cooks.

While your sausage is cooking, quarter the potatoes lengthwise and then slice them into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.  Or whatever looks and feels good to you in the “bite-sized” family.  Add your potatoes to the pot too.  Might as well add the kale now too.  It will obnoxiously fill up your pot.

Once the sausage is all crumbled up and no longer pink, throw that whole mess on top of the kale.  If you’re lucky, it will be hot enough to wilt your kale down a little bit.  I wasn’t quite so lucky.

As gently as you can move things around/stir them up/smush everything down into the broth as best as you can.  Clap the lid on.  Yes, you will have A VERY FULL SLOW COOKER.  It’ll be okay.

Cook on low for… uh… 4 to 6 hours?  Extra cooking will not hurt the potatoes or kale, so really, cook it until it’s dead.  The kale will lose most of its floofy volume.  You will still have like two gallons of soup.  It will be lovely. I believe I gave the soup about 6 hours of cook time, and then held it on warm for another hour or two after I stirred the last of the ingredients in. (see next sentence)

Stir everything together once it’s all cooked down, add your heavy cream, and then add salt and pepper to taste.  I use reduced sodium broth, so I always end up adding more salt than I thought I would need.

Serve with breadsticks or garlic bread or dinner rolls or ciabatta or whatever!

 

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