This is my favorite soup at one of my favorite restaurants: Olive Garden.
(I am using a very small, very borrowed picture until I find the one I took, or make it again and take another!)
With the potatoes, bacon and sausage, it is real comfort food. It is also a cinch to make - BONUS! It does require a search for Kale in the produce section - but it is worth it! (The man who helped me at Harmon's said, "Oh, you want the kind to make that Olive Garden soup? We get people in here looking for that all the time!") I guess there are a couple of different kinds. The one you need is dark green with 'ruffled' edges. You can add it sooner to the soup if you want. As it simmers, it softens up a bit. I omit the red pepper flakes because my kids won't touch it with the extra spice. So, season according to your family's liking. This recipe will feed 6-8 people. I got it from Tuscan Recipes
1 lb. ground Italian Sausage
1 1/2 tsp. crushed (dried) red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbs bacon pieces (or more - you can't go wrong with more bacon!)
2 tsp minced garlic
10 cups water
5 cubes chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. cubed Russet potatoes (about 3 large)
1/4 of a bunch of kale
Saute Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat. Put cooked sausage in a bowl.
In the same pan you cooked the sausage in, cook the bacon, onions and garlic over medium heat until the onions are soft.
Add water and chicken bouillon to pot and bring to a boil.
Add sliced potatoes and cook until soft - about 15 minutes. (Not too soft, they'll continue to cook as you finish up the soup.)
Add the heavy cream and cook until heated through.
Stir in sausage and kale. Let it all heat through and serve.
P.S. Sometimes I have to skim off fat from the sausage as the completed soup heats through. You'll know what I mean if you get orange liquid on the top!