Zuppa Toscana, Low-Carb
This is a variation of the delicious soup served at Olive Garden. This version subs out high protein, slow-carb beans for potato. Also: dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free.
12 oz dry white beans (navy beans or cannellini beans are good options)
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, mined
6 c chicken stock
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1 bay leaf
6 c of Tuscan kale (or regular kale works, too)
Salt and pepper
Soaking the beans
It’s ideal to soak the dry beans for 12 hours (overnight-ish) prior to cooking. Beyond helping the beans cook more quickly and evenly, this helps remediate lectins in the beans that can cause a number of health problems.
Making the soup
You can do all of this in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot. If you wan to cook your sausage and onions in a fry pan and transfer to a soup pot or slow cooker, that’s also fine. I have a slow cooker with a metal insert, so I normally start everything on the stove top cooking, then move the insert back into the slow cooker when it’s ready to simmer.
Cook the sausage in a small amount of oil (if needed); make sure to break it up while cooking so it’s in small pieces for the soup.
Add onions and garlic when the sausage is nearly done and cook till onions are translucent. Maybe 3-5 minutes.
At this point, taste the mixture and adjust for seasoning. Depending on how salty the sausage you use is, you may or may not have to add any salt.
If you’ve cooked the meat, onions, and garlic in a fry pan, transfer to whatever you’re using for simmering the soup.
Add thyme, pre-soaked beans, stock, and bay leaf. Stir and simmer for 2-3 hours or until beans are tender.
When beans are tender, remove around 2 cups of the beans and transfer to blender. Add enough of the stock to cover the beans and puree till very smooth. Note: I try not to get meat in the mixture too, so that you have more chunks of meat when the soup is finished.
Transfer the pureed beans back into the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning.
10 or so minutes before serving the soup, add the kale and stir it in so that it begins to wilt.
I like to serve with a generous portion of black pepper, red pepper flakes, and/or grated salty, dry italin cheese like parmigiano-reggiano.