Zuppa Toscana Soup : Copycat Olive Garden

Saturday, May 13, 2023


This is hands down one of my favorite soups. The first time I had Zuppa Toscana soup was at my local Olive Garden. I usually got a salad for a side when I went out to eat there, but one time I decided to try the soup. I fell in love with it. Now every time I have an opportunity to go to Olive Garden I get that soup. It doesn't matter what time of year it is. It pairs really nicely with their breadsticks. Huge bonus.

Unfortunately now, living in a rural area, I no longer have an Olive Garden close by to eat at. Now I have to try to recreate some of my favorite recipes of theirs from home. Luckily this Zuppa Toscana soup is one of the easiest to recreate.

All of the ingredients for this recipe can be easily found at your local grocery store.

This recipe calls for Italian sausage. You can use either ground sausage or links if that is your preference. I prefer to use mild ground Italian sausage. 

Brown the sausage and crumble it as it cooks. Then make sure to drain the excess grease before adding it to the soup.

While the ground sausage is cooking, clean the potatoes. I use a vegetable scrub brush while cleaning the potatoes to ensure all of the dirt is off of them. This recipe doesn't require the potatoes to be peeled before adding them to the soup. The potatoes can be sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced again into 1/4-inch slices. Or you can just start slicing the potato and if the slices are too big, cut them in half.

I have this nifty little chopper that makes chopping the onions a breeze.

Once the initial prep work is completed, the ingredients can be added to the crock pot. With the exception of the kale and heavy whipping cream, they'll be added shortly before serving. 


Cover the crock pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.

When the soup is finished cooking, turn off the crockpot then add the kale. I have this nice little twirl chop that works great for chopping up the kale into smaller pieces. 

Once the kale is chopped up, it can be added to the soup. Cover the crockpot and allow it to sit for 5 or so minutes to allow the kale to soften. 

When the kale has had a chance to soften you can now add the heavy whipping cream. Give it a good stir, then it's ready to be served.

This soup reheats extremely well and almost tastes better the next day. This is my absolute favorite meal.

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    Instant Pot BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs

    Monday, April 10, 2023

    These BBQ baby back pork ribs will quickly become a family favorite meal, and it's super easy to make using the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker.

    I'll be the first to admit that I had never tried to cook ribs before getting an Instant Pot. I'm not sure if I was intimidated by them, or just not a big fan of ribs. Until now. Now I want to make ribs all the time. Probably because the Instant Pot makes it super easy, and falls off the bones tender. The ribs have some amazing flavor, and they only take about an hour to make.

    When my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, the Instant Pot was my immediate response. My best friend told me what a great device it was and some of the amazing things it can do. 

    Since my son loves ordering ribs whenever we go to a restaurant that has them. And he has made numerous comments about wanting to make some at home, so I decided that ribs were going to be the first thing I try making in the Instant Pot. 

    With some research online I was able to find the best way to do them. I had no idea how long they needed to cook under pressure, or how much liquid to use. I also learned some valuable information about the importance of using natural pressure release when cooking meats in the Instant Pot. If you release the pressure too quickly after cooking, meat has a tendency to come out tough. Something about doing a longer natural pressure release makes the meat come out more tender. I'm sure there's some kind of science behind that, but that's a little over my head.

    How to make the best pork ribs...

    Baby back ribs were used in this recipe, but you can use any cut of pork ribs you desire.

    I rinse the ribs off to get the liquid from the packaging off of them. Then place the ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet.

    To help with removing the membrane, place a table knife between the white membrane and one of the rib bones. Then start lifting up until the membrane peals away from the back of the ribs.

    Once you get it started, the membrane can be easily pulled off the back of the ribs with your hand.

    Generously apply a dry seasoning rub to both sides of the rack of ribs.

    Prepare the Instant Pot to put the ribs in. For a 6qt pot, pour in 1 cup of water, and 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Then place the trivet in the bottom of the pot. If you are using an 8qt pot, increase the water by an additional 1/2 to 1 cup. You can also add a little extra Worcestershire sauce.

    Curl the ribs into a circle, then place them in the Instant Pot on top of the trivet.

    Put the lid on top of the Instant Pot, and secure it into place. Push the pressure cook button and set the timer for 26 minutes on high pressure. It may take 5 to 10 minutes to come to pressure. Or longer depending on the size of the pot.

    Once it finishes cooking, let it naturally release pressure for a minimum of 14 minutes. Then the valve on top can be carefully pressed to release the remaining pressure. When the pin on the top drops, the lid can be removed.

    Pull the ribs out of the pot with some heavy tongs. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, and coat with a generous amount of your favorite bbq sauce on both sides. If you want to finish the ribs off on the grill to give them a nice smokey flavor, make sure the grill is heated up. Place the ribs on the grill and cook on both sides for 5 or so minutes each. Additional bbq sauce can be added while grilling. Once it has a nice glaze and a bit of outer crispiness, pull it off the grill. If a grill is not available, the ribs can also be finished in the oven under the broiler. Broil for 4-5 minutes on each side. 

    For this batch, I used the oven to finish. I prefer it finished on the grill, but the oven is great in a pinch.

    The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender, and it has a wonderful flavor. It has become a family favorite.

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