Sunday, September 15

Health-ier Zuppa Toscana & What To Do with a Rutabaga

Health-ier Zuppa Toscana


So one of the 86543 things that I love about fall is the ability to eat ALOT of different kinds of soups, stews, chowders, and bisques. The weather is changing and chilling the air, and it feels nice to have something warm and comforting. Plus most soups reheat so well..... with kids it is nice to have food that gives grace. If you have to walk away from your food to stop a natural disaster in your home, or stop them from killing each other or the cat or ______and the food still tastes good later, that food gets HUGE bonus points. Maybe that's why I like coffee so much. Coffee reheats beautifully even when I forget where it is for half of a morning. 

Something I don't like? Stepping on the scale in my bathroom..... So I found this healthier zuppa toscana soup and was pretty impressed with it. It's not traditional Italian because the tomatoes have been omitted, BUT in this updated, healthier soup there is no heavy cream or potatoes, and honestly I don't miss a thing. Its beautiful. 

One quick word

Rutabagas, a veggie in the ingredient list you may not be familiar with... Let me give you some pointers on this interesting often overlooked vegetable
 and what to do with it. 

First, I confess half of my knowledge about this veggie is because of my kids. They love Winnie the Pooh and his good friend Rabbit grows them in the old disney books. Years ago I had to look it up to see if it was a made up vegetable or not, after being stuck reading the same book at bedtime for 15 straight days..... Parenting is about endurance people! 

Turns out they are a very real root vegetable, very versatile, AND out they are an incredible good substitute for potatoes. They are so good in their disguise that either mashed or in soup, hardly anyone notices. Serious. They taste the same as a potato - just a bit sweeter like the difference between a russet and yukon gold potato. So anything you can do with a potato, almost, you can do with a rutabaga. I am going to try it in scallop potatoes later this month... its going to be exciting! 

What does it look like? 

Thankfully if you can get past the appearance, you'll find gold. Don't judge this book by its cover. Sure....It may look like a big discolored (white, dirty brown, and sometimes a little yellow) bowling ball at the store. But they are white, after peeled and cut, and they look like white russet potatoes. If you find one that is purple and white, and smaller, thats a turnip. There are a lot of similarities between turnips and rutabagas but you want the nice white sweet rutabaga for this soup. I think they are even easier to peel than a russet with thick brown skin. In this picture (below) they look a little orange hahaha as they have taken on some of the color from the sausage and broth. 

AND (most importantly to me) they are lower in carbs and calories than white potatoes, packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. They aren't a nightshade veggie which means they help fight inflammation. Yay! So no bloating... if you have no idea what I am talking about - that means you're blessed and healthy. Carry on.... 

Health-ier Zuppa Toscana
Serves 4-5 

Here's the super easy short shopping list:

1/2 lb of spicy Italian sausage, ground*
1/2 lb of sweet Italian sausage, ground*
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 cups of beef stock
1 1/2 cups of water
1 onion, finely diced (2-3 cups depending on how much you like onions) 
1 large handful of kale - stems removed just torn and set into a pile (about 2-3 cups) 
1 rutabaga, sliced and peeled (3-4 cups about a pounds worth) 
1 can of unsweetened coconut milk lite

Super easy soup directions:

1. Brown the meat in a medium to large pot with a little bit of oil of your choice or just water. This took me about 5-6 minutes. 

2. While the meat is cooking, about half way through add in the onion. 

3. When the meat is cooked, drain about half the fat out and add in salt, pepper, seasonings, stock, and water. 

4. Bring everything to a boil, add in the rutabaga and the can of coconut milk, stir, cover the pot with a lid, and turn the heat down to low

5. About 20 minutes later whenever you check on it, and the rutabagas are getting soft**, add in the kale and cook another 5 minutes. You want the root veggie pieces soft enough that they start to break apart if they are poked with a fork. 

6. The kale just needs a few minutes to wilt and then the soup is done :) If you overcook it will turn from vibrant grass green to more of an army green color. Its still good just not as pretty. 

7. Serve it up and enjoy! Crackers and or bread and butter are great sides to this hearty soup almost a stew. 

*To save money at the grocery store I bought a package of sausage links that had 2-3 spicy ones and 2-3 sweet Italian ones and just squeezed the ground meat out into the pan. Most places only have pre-packaged ground sausage or pork in single pound measurements so this way you get both flavors with no leftover meat. 

** It might take up to 30 minutes to cook the rutabagas depending on the size you cut them. The smaller the cut the quicker the cooking process. 

Have a happy soup filled fall!