Zuppa Toscana Soup Recipe with Chicken

This Zuppa Toscana recipe is inspired by what you find at Olive Garden, but  much healthier with milk instead of cream and chicken instead of sausage. While it may be a fraction* of the calories, it is 100% of the taste! This recipe is under 200 calories per serving, so you don’t have to feel bad about eating this rich, creamy soup.

Zuppa Toscana is Italian for “Tuscan soup.” So, saying “Zuppa Toscana soup” is actually redundant. Like CAT Test or Volkswagen car.  Well 3% of US searches for “zuppa toscana” include the word soup, so it doesn’t hurt my SEO to include it! Of course, while this soup has its roots in a Tuscan-style potato soup, what they serve at Olive Garden is about as Italian as “French toast” is French. Their recipe calls specifically for Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits. The Oscar Mayer brand is from Chicago. My version doesn’t use any bacon, although I guess you could use chopped up turkey bacon to give it the flavor and crunch without the calories.

Chicken Zuppa Toscana soup

*The Olive Garden website lists their Zuppa Toscana soup at 170 calories, but entering the ingredients from the Olive Garden cookbook into the calorie counter website I use shows the value to be 341. I guess they must just use smaller bowls!

Chicken Zuppa Toscana
 
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Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • .5 pound chicken breast
  • 1 large russet potatoes
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 14 oz (1 can) low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cup of water
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 cups kale
  • ½ cup 1% milk
  • ½ tsp corn starch
Instructions
  1. Grill chicken on George Foreman grill until no longer pink. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cut potatoe in half, then slice into 1" slices.
  3. Place potatoes, onion, broth, water, garlic and seasoning in large pot over medium-high heat. Cook approximately 20" minutes until potatoes pass the "fork test."
  4. Reduce heat to simmer. Cut chicken into 1" chunks. Add to pot with with kale.
  5. Mix corn starch and milk together. Stir into soup. Simmer for 10 minutes until kale is softened and soup begins to thicken.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 429g Calories: 193 Fat: 2.4 Carbohydrates: 20.1 Sugar: 3.3 Sodium: 124 Fiber: 2.8 Protein: 22.3 Cholesterol: 50

How Zuppa Toscana soup made me a believer in kale

I spent a long time believing that I didn’t like kale. It was actually Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana that rid me of that misconception. I have had a love-hate relationship with dark leafy greens, such as kale. Some I don’t like at all. Collards are in this group, and for a long time, so was kale. Others are like spinach. I like it raw but not cooked. I had tried raw kale and found it too bitter for my liking. Since my experience with dark leafy greens had been liking it raw or not it all, I figured if I didn’t like raw kale, I wouldn’t like cooked kale.

Then my wife and I had lunch at Olive Garden back in November. She ordered a bowl of the Zuppa Toscana. I had a taste and discovered I actually did like kale. It just has to be cooked first! The rest was history.

 

Cucumber Citrus Salad

My wife and I recently started participating in the Bountiful Baskets program. Bountiful Baskets is a take on the farm-share concept. It’s a volunteer-run produce buying co-op. Every week there is something a little different inside your basket. Last week I found myself with cucumbers. My wife doesn’t like them, so I am usually stuck making pickles with cucumbers I receive. But this time I decided to try something a little different. I wanted a salad, but not a salad with a bunch of lettuce in it. We always have Mandarin oranges in our fruit bowl, so I decided to make a simple cucumber citrus salad.

Cucumber Citrus Salad

Actually, I got the idea from the Bountiful Baskets blog. Their blog shares recipes that highlights different ingredients in the basket that week. So when they put cucumbers in the basket, co-founder Debbie shared her cucumber citrus salad.

Of course, I changed it around a bit. For my cucumber citrus salad, I took out the celery, used Mandarin oranges instead of navel oranges, crushed almonds instead of slivered (it’s a lot easier), added tomato, and made a simple lemon vinaigrette. Some of the changes were for reasons of taste, most were simple expediency. As I like to remind everyone here, if you can read a recipe, you can cook, but don’t let the recipe intimidate you into buying ingredients you don’t have or don’t like.

While it is snowing here in Colorado today, we did have a good run of nice spring weather and nothing says warm days are here again than citrus flavors and summer vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes. I had this for lunch last weekend sitting on my patio enjoying temperatures in the upper 60′s. I used to be a winter person, but I’ve come to find that spring is now my favorite season. Warm days without being hot, crisp mornings, and flowers blooming everywhere.

Cucumber Citrus Salad
 
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Recipe type: Side
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into 1" chunks
  • 1 tomato, sliced into 1" chunks
  • 1 Mandarin orange
  • 1 TBSP crushed nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1 TBSP. vinegar
  • 3 TSBP. olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon (approximately 1 TBSP)
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Slice cucumber lengthwise in half. Slice each half in half again to make large spears. Cut cucumber spears into 1" pieces. I like to cut on alternating diagonals to create different shaped pieces.
  2. Dice tomato into 1" chunks. Peel orange and separate into individual segments. Add all ingredients into medium-sized bowl. Lightly toss to coat vegetables in dressing.
  3. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow dressing to soak into vegetables.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 275 Fat: 22.9 Saturated fat: 3.2 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 1935 Sugar: 12.2 Sodium: 160 Fiber: 2.5 Protein: 2.6 Cholesterol: 0

The last step of letting it sit for 5 minutes is probably the most crucial, since that will allow the salt to draw water out of the the veggies and the vinaigrette dressing to seep in.

Adjust the amount of lemon juice to suit your tastes. Most recipes will call for mixing the vinaigrette dressing ingredients together before adding to the salad, but just like my stance on wet and dry ingredients in cookies, I don’t believe in dirtying another bowl when everything is simply getting mixed together.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Pudding is one of my all-time favorite desserts. Especially chocolate pudding. I also love avocados.  So when I saw a recipe for Chocolate Avocado Pudding on A Cedar Spoon, I knew I had to try it. My wife wasn’t impressed with the idea, but I figured that was okay. It meant more for me!

chocolate avocado pudding

Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the result from the A Cedar Spoon recipe. The addition of the corn starch thickened it up too much and when it cooled, it was the consistency of cake frosting. That said, the next time I make a cake, I’m definately using that recipe to make my own chocolate frosting instead of simply buying a canister of butter-cream.

But I was hooked on the idea.  I tried it again. This time I a version from Fearless Homemaker. No corn-starch. The consistency was a lot better, but the ratio of the ingredients was slightly off. Too much unsweetened cocoa powder made it slightly bitter.

Not deterred, I combined the recipes. The third time was definitely the charm. I finally had my decadent chocolate pudding that used a creamy avocado base.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 over-ripe avocadoes
  • ¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ c. confectioner's sugar (for paleo, try agave nectar or honey instead)
  • ¼ c. milk (for vegan, try almond milk instead)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Cut avacadoes in half. Remove pit and scoop into medium size bowl. Add remaining ingredients.
  2. Mash by hand or use food processor for creamier texture.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: .75 cup Calories: 81 Fat: 1.1 Saturated fat: .6 Carbohydrates: 18.7 Sugar: 15.6 Sodium: 9 Fiber: 1.8 Protein: 1.6 Cholesterol: 1

This is a great use for avocados that have become over-ripe. Over-ripe avocados are softer and creamer. That makes them great for guacamole, but over-ripe ones tend to darken and have blemishes in the flesh. If you don’t mind a little brown instead of just rich grean in your guac, then chow down. If that avocado mash needs to be picture perfect, then you are better off using those fruits for something where the flesh will get mixed in with other dark ingredients, such as this chocolate avocado pudding.

– See more at: http://www.anyonita-nibbles.co.uk/2014/03/tasty-tuesdays-54.html#sthash.JDvPQoB2.dpuf