Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Mel suggested that I do what I do best and talk about food in the absense of not knowing what to say! I do love food and I do love talking about it, so here goes.

I am slowly, ever so slowly, regaining an appetite and ability to eat. I still am unable to eat breakfast on most days, and lunch and dinner are hit and miss, but I am finding a meal here and there that I can eat and keep down, especially if I time taking my beloved phenergan just right.

Last week, we went to Olive Garden after we had our good ultrasound. My mother had given us a gift card for Chirstmas, so we felt as if we could treat ourselves without spending too much money. Gosh, it just goes to show how rarely we get out lately, but I was shocked at how much the prices had gone up while the portions seemed to have gone down. The soup and salad were still plentiful, but both of our entrees were small. The price on mine had gone up about $3 since the last time that I ordered it. We had no alcoholic drinks or appetizers, brought a dessert home to my girlfriend who watched Will for us, and the bill was still almost $50. Thank goodness for the gift card!

I do love their soup. In particular, their zuppa toscana. I love the creamy broth, the mildly spicy sausage, the kale, the potatoes. Surprisingly, it also isn't that bad for you, at 170 calories per serving, 4 fat grams, and 2 grams of fiber, although I felt as if I could make it at home and do something to decrease the fat content and increase the fiber. That night, that bowl of soup tasted like heaven, and I felt as if by making it at home, I could have my newest craving for less money and maybe even make it a bit healthier.

I did my usual google search to find a recipe that I could work off of and found this one.

I did make the following adjustments:

I used turkey italian sausage instead of pork sausage.
I cooked the bacon in the pan first, then drained the bacon well on a paper towel and washed the pot to decrease the bacon grease.
I increased the amount of kale and used a hefty half of the bunch because I love it and decreased the potatoes by half. I still felt it had plenty of potatoes, but that would probably be a personal preference.
I used low sodium, non-fat chicken broth instead of the bouillon because I didn't like how much salt all of the bouillon added and I prefer the taste of the organic broth that I buy from Costco - but then I did have to add just a pinch of salt at the end to get the taste "just right".
I used half and half instead of the heavy cream.

And, with my hats off to this website, I felt it tasted as good as if not better than the restaurant's. It makes a pretty good sized pot, too, and with my appetite being a fraction of what it used to be, this pot will last me awhile. I added up the costs and it was $5 for me to make this entire pot of soup at home (I did get a killer deal on the italian sausage, so that makes a difference). It would have cost me more than $5 to order the bowl at the restaurant. Of course, they do bring refills, but I always feel piggy after the second bowl!

I served it with a tossed green salad, brown and serve breadsticks that I brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic salt as they were baking, and I swear to you if I closed my eyes as I was eating, I could have been at the Olive Garden. Don't get me wrong, there is still something about the endless bowls of soup and salad and the fresh, hot breadsticks being brought to your table, but this, my friends, is a much more wallet (and waist) friendly way to enjoy one of my favorites. It also was a pretty easy recipe to make, too! Enjoy!


Sunny said...

Leave it to Mel to have the perfect suggestion. :)

Although now you have me wanting to go to Olive Garden, and who KNOWS when I'll ever eat at a restaurant again. I guess I'll have to forward your post to my hubby so he can make this for me!!

Katie said...

Sunny, I happen to know a blogger that lives not too far away from you that already has a tupperware container full of the soup! :)

Stacy Woodruff said...

Mmmmmm, that sounds good. My favorite from olive garden is their Chicken & Gnocchi soup. My mom and sisters are hooked on it too. We live an hour from the nearest olive garden, so if one of my hubby's jobs takes him by there, he will bring home a gallon of it, and I will split the gallon with my sister that lives close by. It's a lot cheaper by the gallon too, and they throw in breadsticks, bowls, and a ladle usually.

Danifred said...

Mmmmm... soup... sounds PERFECT right now!

Christy said...

What a perfect solution!

Thanks for sharing that recipe. It is my hubby's favorite soup too and I just dragged him over to the computer to take a look at it and shared all of your comments. I'm sure we'll try it soon!

MissNoAngel (find me on Twitter) said...

I know what you mean...prices are insane these days! Yipes. Glad you found a good recipe though, gawd I miss cooking!

Amy said...

I made a version of that soup last's amazing and I love kale! The best spice to add is smoked paprika! YUM!!!!