I used to really like the Zuppa Toscana soup from Olive Garden. It is described in their menu as, "Spicy sausage, russet potatoes, and cavolo greens in a creamy broth." The words "creamy broth" should be red flashing danger signs to anyone trying to avoid high fat items or dairy.
The basic principle of the soup isn't bad, spicy meat, potatoes, greens, creamy broth. Trying to eliminate animal products or high fat items from your diet can inspire you look for alternatives.
Spicy Sausage --> Vegan Sausage with extra black pepper
Russet Potatoes --> I decided to switch out my potatoes for cannellini beans. They are high in fiber and protein but low in fat, and I think an upgrade from potatoes.
Cavolo Greens --> Two bunches of organic kale
Creamy Broth --> I added about 2/3 of my beans directly into my soup but I put the other 1/3 into the food processor to form something that looks like mashed potatoes. I stirred the puree into the stock and viola! Creamy Broth.
Celery. White Onion. Olive Oil. Garlic. Cannellini Beans. Vegan Sausage. Vegetable Stock. Kale. Salt & Pepper.
Saute 1/2 cup celery and 3/4 cup onion in olive oil with 3-4 cloves of roasted garlic.
Roasting garlic is fun and easy. Chop the top off the entire bulb of garlic. Pour some olive oil over the top. Wrap in aluminum foil. Cook at 400 degrees for 20-30 min until the garlic cloves are soft, squishy, and super fragrant. The bitterness cooks out of them leaving lots of garlic goodness. I have been known to put a clove of roasted garlic on a cracker.
Add entire package of vegan sausage and cook until browned. The sausage absorbs a good bit of the water later on and so it isn't as crunchy as I'd like it to be. I might remove it next time after browning and then re-add in at the end (like people do with bacon bits).
Add vegetable stock and 2/3 of the cannellini beans. Bring to a boil.
Add 1/3 pureed cannellini beans and de-stemmed kale cut into bite size pieces. Salt and pepper to taste. Heavy on the pepper.
This soup is going to be less calories, less fat, less saturated fat, totally vegan, and maybe more delicious than the original!