21 May 2017

Vegan Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden Soup)

Two hands in the air for Olive Garden's infamous Zuppa Toscana. Wait. Two hands in the air for Olive Garden's anything. Give me every single breadstick. Yep, it's safe to say I'm a life long OG fan. I am after all, part Italian and admitted lover of carb heavy foods. But, I'm also a herbivore and that cancels out many of the options on their menu.

Despite the many menu items that don't fit my dietary habits, I've been on either a vegan or vegetarian diet since the end of my teenage years and with that, my cooking skills have upped majorly. They had to. Now, after many years of eating meat-free, I'm finding more joy than ever in eating and even more so cooking - all of my favourite things with a meatless twist. Including said, spicy, creamy soup.


This soup can be made both vegan and vegetarian, but in effort to not totally kill the excitement in everything my boys eat, I tend to make the vegetarian version but making it vegan is ridiculously easy (swap out the dairy-based cream and chicken broth for their vegan alternatives, which I will list options below when necessary).

Ingredients:

White Kidney Beans
Kale - fresh not frozen
Potatoes - traditionally red
Whole Onion
Garlic - whole cloves
Broth (chicken, *vegetable)
Cream - half and half, *full fat coconut milk, cashew creamer
Black Pepper
Red/Chilli Pepper Flakes
Paprika (replaces smokiness of bacon)

* Optional - textured vegetable protein (replaces sausage) and/or vegan bacon alternative. I usually opt out of both and load up on kale, or add cooked lentils.

Let's Make It:

1. Dice onions and garlic, add to pot with oil and simmer. *Paprika will replace the bacon flavour, but if cooking with a veg-sausage alternative, cook/brown it now.

2. Add in liquids - 1 cup water, 2 cups creamer, 2-3 cups broth.

3. Drain and rinse all beans. Cut potatoes into thick cubes. Add both to pot and let boil. If you're adding a sausage alternative (already browned) add it into your pot now.

4. When pot has come to a boil, add paprika (totally depends on spice level preference but about 1/2 tsp. should suffice) and chopped kale to the pot. Kale will look overwhelming but it will wilt smaller as you cook, so fear not.

5. Let the pot continue to simmer, stirring occasionally to help the kale cook down and absorb all the flavours. Continue to simmer on low heat for another 10-15 minutes before seasoning with black pepper and chilli flakes.

6. Use a ladle to make sure you get a lot of goodies in every scoop. Serve immediately. I top ours with hemp seeds and parmesan (this vegan option is now widely available) and serve with baguette slices or whole grain melbas.

Now, my food photography skills are quit honestly, brutal. And although the photo(s) don't do justice, this is absolutely delicious and I continue to share recipes nonetheless. Find more of those food posts here. Enjoy.


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