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Zuppa Toscana Lightened Up

If you are searching for a comforting soup that is light on calories and fat, I've altered Zuppa Toscana, a fan favorite, to make it friendly for most diets.

Instead of using pork for the meatballs, I mixed a lean ground turkey with spicy red pepper flakes and other ingredients to make them flavorful in this soup. There is no dairy, but the russet potatoes that cook in the broth gives this bowl a creamy feel. Raw kale is added last, and it's just delicious!


1 pound ground turkey ( 90% lean)

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Sea Salt (or Kosher or none depending on what your diet dictates)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon evoo (see alternative notes below)


4 carrots, sliced into rounds (approximately 5.5 ounces)

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

3 garlic cloves, minced

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 russet potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks

4 cups kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

In a large bowl, mix the meatball ingredients together well with your hands.

Because there is no binder in this meatball (breadcrumbs or egg) I gently sear these in a tablespoon of olive oil first to make sure they hold together during the rest of the soup steps. I was not intent on searing them to be fully cooked since they simmer in the soup for long enough to cook the meatballs throughout. Be gentle, these are fragile.

I used my large dutch oven and added one tablespoon of evoo and heated over medium heat. I formed the meatballs as I went, making them small bite-sized, and gently dropped them around the dutch oven. Using a small spatula I scoop under them firmly one at a time and roll them a little in one direction around the pan to sear a second side.


spray a foil-lined sheet pan with cooking spray and bake these in a 375 oven for about 15 minutes for a 1-inch meatball. The turkey meatballs are done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165 and a meatball in the center of the baking sheet is fully cooked through when cut in half. I do not think the oven method makes them as pretty, and to be honest, we eat with our eyes first and I want to make this soup pretty. But this alternative method saves you a tablespoon of olive oil!

I left the meatballs in the soup while I added the rest of the ingredients in stages. If you feel your meatballs are fragile, pull them out with tongs (even if they are not cooked through) and set them aside until the very end.

To make the soup,

add the carrots and Italian seasoning to the Dutch oven and allow them to cook for a few minutes, stirring them often. Next, add the garlic and stir for a minute until it is fragrant.

Add the chicken stock and the chopped potatoes, and allow the soup to come to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.

If you previously removed the meatballs, now is the time to gently slide those back into the soup and add all the kale. Add the lid and continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve in wide shallow bowls so all the ingredients have a chance to poke out through the broth. Enjoy without guilt. This recipe yields approximately five servings and is under 300 calories per serving.

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