This recipe is versatile and can be easily adjusted to suit different dietary preferences. It's a hearty soup that's brimming with russet potatoes, kale, and a velvety broth that never fails to evoke nostalgic memories of my childhood when I frequently prepared it for my family.
Although Zuppa Toscana traditionally features Italian sausage, I chose to replace it with tomato paste to impart a delightful tomato flavor to the dish. Additionally, I included couscous in the soup because it reminded me of Italian Wedding soup, which typically utilizes Acini Di Pepe pasta. Nonetheless, I prefer the plump texture of couscous, and hence, I substituted it instead. This soup is a fusion of the two Italian soups with a Moroccan influence, and an optional addition of Ras el Hanout that adds an extraordinary flavor profile to the dish.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or vegan butter
- 1 large yellow onions, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/ 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/ 2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean and sliced into ¼ inch thick slices
- 3/ 4 cup Israeli couscous, (or gluten-free pasta sub)
- 10 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon chicken or vegetable bouillon concentrate (optional)
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
- Juice from ½ a lemon, plus more to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream or dairy free cream (such as Silk dairy- free heavy whipping cream, full fat oat milk, or coconut milk)
- Hard Italian cheese (such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Granda Panao or vegan parmesan cheese)
Warm olive oil and butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in minced garlic, red pepper flakes and Ras el Hanout if using. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute.
Stir in tomato paste and couscous until mixture is coated. Add in potato slices and stir together 1-2 minutes.
Add stock and using the back of a wooden spoon scrape up any browned bits. Add the bouillon concentrate if using. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes and couscous are cooked through.
Stir in kale, and cook for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat and stir in cream until completely combined. [Note: At this point the soup will be on the thicker side, add more stock to thin it out to desired consistency, I prefer this soup to be on the thinner side.]
Serve in bowls topped with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.