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We’ve been going to Olive Garden lately, trying to take advantage of the 2 for $25 while it lasted. Everybody has his or her own favorite dish; mine is the Seafood Lasagna Rollata, but all love the Zuppa Toscana, even the little one. She finished her bowl, leaving out the bits of meat, of course.

So the Novice Gardener decided to have a go at it and create a copycat recipe at home. There is no kale from the garden; spring planting hasn’t even started yet. A few plants have survived winter, but not enough to pick for eating. Here’s an opportunity to use up those edible wild vegetables to replace the kale.

The result was excellent. When the kids don’t complain about the green thing floating in the broth, the Novice Gardener declares it a green thumbs up!

Copycat Zuppa Toscana (with wild greens)

1 lb chicken breast (only because the little one doesn’t eat sausages, but Italian sausage would have been lovely; that’s what Olive Garden uses)
4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled (optional)
2 large all-purpose potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chickweed, bittercress, or henbit, or all of them mixed, blanched, squeezed to remove the liquid, then chopped (or do what Olive Garden does and use kale)
2 cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour

1. Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces, if using, then brown and drain on paper. Otherwise cup chicken into small cubes.

2. Sauté onion and garlic in a soup pot with olive oil.

3. Add chicken, stir to break up the chicken. It has the tendency to stick together in a clump. Cook til chicken is no longer pink. Sprinkle flour all over, keep stirring. The flour will thicken the soup; we like it that way.

4. Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.

5. Add potatoes. Add sausage, too, at this point, if using.

6. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.

7. Add bacon and greens.

8. Salt and pepper to taste.

9. Add heavy cream last. Simmer for a few minutes, just to heat it thru. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 6