Have you ever been transported to a different country just by taste?
We discovered Vinny Testa’s at the Liberty Tree Mall, or Vinny’s, as we liked to call it, by chance, and quickly grew to love the fresh Italian flavors as much as the atmosphere. In fact, all four of my children practically grew up in their high chairs we were there so often. At least weekly, and sometimes, like during the Christmas shopping rush, twice in one month, we indulged in their homestyle Italian fare.
Finer dining it was not, but fresh, flavorful and family-friendly. Those were the days! I always looked forward to a piping hot bowl of their Tuscan style, white bean and sausage soup. I imagined that this soup embodied the flavors of Italy. It was spicy, without being overpowering, and satisfying without being filling. The kind of soup with flavors that pack such a punch, you can’t stop eating it.
Until the restaurant you love goes out of business, and you have no choice.
Since Vinny’s closed, I have been unable to find anything like this soup in any other restaurant. There were times i thought maybe I’d found it, and I’d get excited by the picture on the menu, only to have the taste disappoint.
With fall in the air, I have been craving this soup more so than ever. So what else to do but try to try replicate it, and - dare I say- improve on the recipe!
Soups provide the perfect excuse to add leafy greens. A newly discovered regular to our kitchen menu is Kale, this superfood is being touted for its high levels of vitamins A and C and calcium, is a known immune booster, and can be used in anything you might normally add chopped spinach to. The Tuscan Bean soup I remember had bits of spinach in it, so I thought kale would compliment this soup nicely, and I also added a sweet potato to counter the spiciness of the sausage.
This nutritional and tasty soup was so flavorful my children went back for seconds and then thirds. I am so excited to share this recipe for Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Soup With Sweet Potato and Kale- Enjoy!
Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Soup With Sweet Potato and Kale
1 lb. sweet fennel sausage, casings removed
1 lb. hot italian sausage, casings removed
1 large sweet potato, thinly sliced
2 cans white cannellini beans
1 bunch of kale, chopped or torn into bite sized pieces
1 T. olive oil
½ c. dry white wine
2 shallots, chopped
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 32 ounce cartons of chicken stock, low sodium preferred
½ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 T. dried or fresh thyme
2 T. worcestershire sauce
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp black pepper
*Add olive oil to a large stock pot over medium heat, and add shallots and garlic. Stir continuously. When the shallots are transluscent, add the sausage to brown and continue stirring. Add the rest of the ingredients and raise to a boil, then lower and let simmer for 25 minutes. Serves 6.