Four words, baby: soup. salad. and. breadsticks.
I'm going to admit it here. I would rather go to a million other Italian restaurants than The Olive Garden (Ristorante Bartolotta, Lousie's, Zarletti.... I could go on). [Gasp.] No offense, it's just not my thing. I do, however, like their "Soup, Salad & Breadsticks" lunch thingy, and go once or twice a year. I say, forget the whole "dry" breadsticks thing, by the way - that really isn't going to make it that much healthier, and you should just LIVE and enjoy the butter and garlic and goodness, IMHO. I also would rather wear sweats on the beach, so maybe all you dry breadstick people are flaunting it in bikinis, and I'm missing out, but.... Anyway, I pretty much always get the Zuppa Toscana, and when I found this recipe a few years ago, I was a happy camper. Enjoy!
6 cups chicken broth
1 white onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves,minced
1 lb. spicy Italian sausage (links or ground)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
3 large Russet potatoes, cubed (you can leave skin on)
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and chopped (you can also use kale here — great in winter)
1/2 c. evaporated milk (or heavy cream, or 1/2 & 1/2)
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Remove skin from sausage and crumble into pan (or just use ground). Add chopped onion,
garlic and and red pepper, and cook over medium heat until meat is no
longer pink. Drain any grease off. Add browned meat to Dutch oven; add
stock and potatoes. Bring to a boil until potato is tender, about 20
minutes, Reduce heat, add spinach, and simmer until spinach cooks,
about 2 minutes. Remove soup from heat, stir in evaporated milk/cream, and season to taste. You can serve with fresh, shaved Parmesan cheese.