Almost Vegan - Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My hope is to make this blog more integrated with the way we live as a whole over here at Monarch Room. I plan to share recipes and other health tips, so hopefully you'll forgive my changing it up on y'all. I will still keep you posted on how school is going because that's probably what brought you here in the first place. So here goes....

For several years my husband and I ate a mostly vegan diet. I may of slipped on a piece of cheese every now and again, but I'm sure you wouldn't judge me for that. The reason I originally went vegan was that I had 30 pounds to lose. Over the course of 6 months I ended up losing all that weight just by cutting out dairy and meat. I can't say I lost the weight because I became a marathon runner because anyone who knows me knows that is most certainly not the case! It was purely because I changed my diet which I thought said a lot about the merit of giving up my full fat latte. I felt overall better and less jiggly. Fast forward....While we were waiting for the basement of our home to be completed we lived at my in-laws for 6 weeks where the land is flowing with whipping cream and beef tenderloin. I never really recuperated and went back to a mostly omnivorous life for the past year.

Anyway, my goal for the new year was to go back to as much of a vegan diet as possible. I may at some point give you the reasons why I believe it to be a great choice. For now I'll share a few recipes here and there that you might enjoy.

I used to make the original carnivorous version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana with cream and a double dose of pork (i.e. Italian sausage and Bacon.) It's one of Aedan's favorite soups I make. I (almost) veganized it by changing up the ingredients. Guess what? He still loves it!

I say this is almost vegan because I used Trader Joe's (my grocery boyfriend) Italian Sausage-less sausage instead of a completely vegan version. This variety has egg whites, but I say you can't win em' all right? If you have found a better vegan sausage please give me a holla!

(Almost) Vegan - Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana
  • 12 oz Trader Joe's Sausage Links or equivalent - Sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow onion - Chopped
  • 3-4 Potatoes - 1 1/2 pounds(ish) - Sliced thinly in half moons (or however your little heart desires)
  • Olive oil - 4 t. divided
  • 2 cloves of Garlic - Minced
  • Kale - 4 Big Handfuls
  • 1/4 C. Better than Bouillon No Chicken Broth
  • 8-10 cups of water depending on how much you like salt
  • 2 C. Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk
  • 1 t. Dried Thyme (or if you're amazing - fresh) 
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
In a large pot heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 7 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic at the last minute of onion cook time. Add bouillion and water. Bring to a boil. 

In the meantime, heat 2 t. olive oil in pan over high heat. I find a non-stick pan works best with this sausage. Saute sausage until brown and crisp. Set aside.

Add thyme, potatoes and kale. I put 4 cups of kale in the recipe, but I say go buck-wild with the throwing of the greens in the pot. They're greens right? We're supposed to eat a whole heck of a lot of them, so I probably put in 8 cups. Who knows?! Use your own judgment :) Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender. At about 5 minutes before the cook time has ended add in soy milk and sausage. Season with pepper. Voila!

Tips: Better than Bouillon is my favorite vegan stock option. Skip the MSG for goodness sake!
Oh! I'm a lifetime Weight Watchers member, so I often calculate WW Points just to see how many a recipe has. This one only has 3 Weight Watchers Points points per cup. Heeeyyyyy! It's your birthday!


  1. looks yummy! We are trying grain free/sugar free over here. Thanks for the yummy recipe.

  2. We love soups! ...and Trader Joes, too! I think we will try this recipe soon when things settle down a bit.

  3. Kate,

    I'd like to try to do the same at some point as well. I'm definitely limiting sugar. I need to try the cookbook you are talking about.


    Soups are my favorite thing to make this time of year. I love having those great leftovers!


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