Witches Brew (Zuppa Toscana with Toasted Cheese Croutons)

Post 2 of 3: Hocus Pocus Party

This hearty soup will warm you up and get you going for a night of Tricks and Treats.  It tastes just like Zuppa Toscana at the Olive Garden, but is even better because it has a cheesy toasty crouton on top.  No one will laughif you stand over the stove stirring the soup with a HUGE wooden spoon, cackling to yourself.  Promise.  Especially if no one else is home.  😉

I will also include a variation for ‘Vampire Blood Soup’ at the bottom.  Enjoy!

 

Witches Brew

 

Yield: 10-12 servings

WW Plus Points: 5

1 lb. Italian Sausage, removed from casings and crumbled (I use Italian Turkey Sausage)

1 large onion, chopped

3 Tbsp real bacon bits (Hormel, about half a can)

2 cloves garlic, minced

32 oz. Chicken Stock (fat-free, reduced sodium)

2 large russet potatoes, cut in half lengthwise then cut into 1/4″ slices

2 cups chopped kale

1/2 cup half and half (fat-free works just fine)

1/2 of a thin baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds*

Olive Oil Spray*

Jarlsberg or Gruyère cheese, sliced thin*

FOR THE SOUP:

1.  Fry onions and Italian sausage until sausage is well browned and onions are soft, about 10 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2.  Add bacon bits, potatoes, broth and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

3.  Turn heat to low and add Kale.  Cook until kale is wilted and warmed through, about 5 minutes.

4.  Remove from heat and stir in Half and Half.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

FOR THE CROUTONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.

2.  Place sliced bread on a foil lined baking sheet.  Spray lightly with Olive Oil Spray.

3.  Bake for 5 minutes, flip the slices, spray lightly, and bake an additional 5 minutes.

4.  The croutons are done when they are lightly browned on the edges.  Let cool.

TO SERVE:

1.  Set oven to Broil.

2.  Ladle soup into mugs.  Place mugs on a foil-lined sheet pan.  Top with 1-2 croutons and 1-2 thin slices of cheese.

3.  Place under the broiler, checking every 30 seconds or so.  They are done when the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

4.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, or until mugs are cool enough to hold.  Enjoy!

*Ingredients not included in WW Plus Points.

Vampire Blood Soup

 

Yield: 2 generous servings

WW Plus Points: 3

1 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp butter

15 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

14.5oz can chicken broth (reduced fat, lower sodium)

1 Tbsp pesto

1.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2.  Add tomatoes and chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.

3.  Blend the soup mixture with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender) until almost smooth.

4.  Remove from heat and stir in pesto sauce.

5.  Follow the method above to serve in mugs with croutons topped with thin slices of mozzarella cheese.

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