Instant Pot: Zuppa Toscana

Okay, I'll admit it... one of my guilty pleasures is dining at Olive Garden, especially during their annual 'Never Ending Pasta Bowl' special. Judge if you must but Olive Garden is one of those restaurants that has some meaning to me. Growing up in the suburbs, chain restaurants were plentiful and often times my family and friends we would celebrate events with a dinner out. Many of those celebrations ended up at Olive Garden.

For me, it's kind of a comfort thing I guess... the complimentary soup or salad (I usually order salad), their breadsticks (which I find too filling and too salty) and their mediocre pasta. Sure, I could easily whip up a much better pasta dish at home, but it's a night out friends and family enjoy together where no one has to worry about cooking or cleaning. With that said, my husband is particularly fond of Olive Garden's 'Zuppa Toscana' soup. While I order the house salad, he orders this soup and every single time he orders it, he looks across the table at me and asks, "Why don't you ever make this at home? Like really make it... just like it tastes here?" I look back at him, roll my eyes and sigh.

I've attempted making my own spin of Zuppa Toscana a couple years ago. He thought it was good, but it wasn't 'exactly like Olive Garden's.' So in an effort to appease my husband, here is a much closer attempt of the soup and it's been given my husband's seal of approval. Finally.\

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana
inspired by Olive Garden Restaurant

6-8 cups homemade chicken broth
1 lb italian sausage, removed from casings
2 baking potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh kale
1/4 cup half & half
Grated Parmesan for serving if desired

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.

Press SAUTE and add the crumbled Italian sausage and brown, about 3-5 minutes. 

Add the potatoes, spices and chicken broth. 

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 5 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 5 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 5 minutes, turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Meanwhile, prepare the kale by cutting away the tough core and stem. Slice the leafy greens into slices and place in a bowl.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

Stir in the kale and half & half. (The heat of the soup will cook the kale without turning it brown.)

Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if desired.

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