Z is for Zuppa Toscana


My husband is of Italian descent and one of the restaurants that Mark and my girls enjoy is Olive Garden.  We go round and round in my family about the merits of chain restaurants vs mom and pop individually owned eateries.

Mark and the girls enjoy the chain eateries because there is usually something for everybody and this was especially important when my girls were little because they preferred more commonly found entrees like macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders!

I am a big advocate for individually owned and small eateries because I think they are generally more authentic and I like patronizing small businesses which very much add to the vibrancy and uniqueness of a neighborhood.


Now that my girls are older, we are able to visit our favorite neighborhood  restaurants more frequently.  I like the relationship that you form with the neighborhood businesses and visiting each store is like dropping in on good friends or even family.

Don’t get me wrong-I think there is a place for all the different kinds of restaurants here in the US.  The big chains generally serve good food and if your only chance to explore Italian food is a big chain restaurant then you should definitely go for it.

It drove me crazy when we lived in San Antonio that Olive Garden would annually win the best Italian restaurant in town according to the people’s polls.  They probably still do.

There are so many good mom and pop Italian restaurants in San Antonio and they are all going to go out of business if everyone just patronizes the big chains.  So I have made it my lifelong mission to advocate and publicize the goodness and importance of neighborhood eateries.



Obviously, not all neighborhood eateries are good but in general, they serve delicious and reasonably priced food which are cooked by people who are passionate about what they do.

I picked Zuppa for my letter Z  because  it was one of the more exciting foods that begin with Z.  One of the most common zuppas is Zuppa Toscana.

So what is Zuppa Toscana?  Zuppa means soup or chowder in Italian so Zuppa Toscana is a type of soup from the Tuscan region of Italy.  It is a hearty stew typical of the farm fare which is  served in Tuscany which is well known for it’s wonderful agricultural products and unpretentious cooking.





I was researching Zuppa Toscana and the first few search pages are all dedicated to the said name soup from Olive Garden.



So after all that, when we do go to Olive Garden, one of the dishes that I enjoy there is their Zuppa Toscana which you can get as a starter for your meals.  It is a fantastic way to prepare kale so I included the copycat recipe here.

Supposedly the above recipe was submitted by someone who used to work at Olive Garden!

I have really enjoyed this A-Z blogging challenge.  It was definitely a challenge to write everyday and I took the advice of previous bloggers to write ahead.

The best and most delightful surprise  from the challenge was all the wonderful bloggers I have met through this challenge.  I know I will continue to visit their blogs long after this challenge is over because they feel like close friends and I love stopping by for a chat.

It has been so fun to explore different blogs and the myriad of topics that the blogs cover. I hope you have enjoyed my chosen topic of food for this blog challenge and gained some knowledge about the different foods, especially the ones from my hometown, that I have highlighted.

Thank you to all who commented and especially for all the kind words and support.  I have been working hard on my blog especially since it’s move to a self hosted site and it is so gratifying to hear positive feedback about the changes.

Thank you so much for reading my blog and I hope you will drop by again very soon.  I am going to start writing more about travel and I have a big upcoming trip to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in June so please come back for some exciting coverage and updates about my trip.  Or better still, please subscribe via email to my blog so that you will get regular updates about my posts. :)

What do you think about chain restaurants vs neighborhood eateries?  Do you have a favorite neighborhood or chain restaurant?  Why do you like it?

24 comments to Z is for Zuppa Toscana

  • Gwen Tolios  says:

    Oh, this sounds so good! And now I totally know where the chain Zoup! got their name. I think, anyway.

    • Lila  says:

      The soup is actually quite delicious and normally I would say-give it a try but I don’t know if you would be able to find the ingredients! So lovely getting to know you and your blog. Keep up the good work and your exciting adventures. :)

  • BuzzingBee  says:

    Independent eateries all the way! Although chains are a comfort when in a completely foreign land.

    Congratulations on running the gamut of the challenge! Have totally enjoyed all the posts, and learnt so many new things (which hopefully one day I’ll get to try). Look forward to the World Cup posts.

    • Lila  says:

      Yours was truly one of my most favorite blog that I stumbled upon in this A-Z challenge! Let’s hear it for independently owned businesses and awesome A-Z bloggers! Stay tuned for WC posts. :)

  • Nana Prah  says:

    Such gorgeous pictures of the landscape and the soup. A wonderful way to end the A to Z challenge. I’ve had a great time drooling through your posts.

    • Lila  says:

      It has been a great pleasure getting to know you and your blog through this challenge. I will definitely be dropping back by on your blog. Congratulations on completing the A-Z challenge fabulous lady! :)

  • Liz A.  says:

    Yes, we should go out of our way to visit the individually owned restaurants in our neighborhood. They’re harder to find, though, which is why more people stick with the comfort and familiarity of the chains.

    • Lila  says:

      Yes-I think people go to big chain restaurants for convenience as you said. I think first Fridays or small business spotlight weekends when communities have them are terrific for highlighting independently owned stores. They’re also always a lot of fun. :)

  • Constance - Foreign Sanctuary  says:

    That sounds and looks delicious!!

    Personally, I like to eat at small popular neighbourhood restaurants. They usually have been around for quite awhile and are famous for a certain dish.

    Congrats on completing the A-Z challenge. I know some other bloggers who did it and they said it was quite the challenge to blog so many times in one month.

    • Lila  says:

      Yes-we are kindred spirits! Let’s hear it for small and independently owned businesses. I am so glad I did the A-Z blogging challenge. I learned a lot about blogging and the best was meeting all the super supportive blogging community through this challenge. I’m already planning next year’s topic. :)

      • Constance - Foreign Sanctuary  says:

        Yes, I bet doing the challenge is great for meeting new people and networking! Maybe I’ll join myself next year!! You are smart to plan ahead!!

        • Lila  says:

          You should definitely do the challenge next year. It helped me lots with my writing and the support I got was fantastic. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it highly. Thanks for dropping by! :)

  • Sandy  says:

    Oh my, Olive Garden…I would rather eat at home then go there. Got horrible food poisoning the last time I went there (against my wishes). I really avoid chain restaurants with the only exception being a drive through bland x anywhere usa thing on the way home from work if it’s been a really long shift and I don’t intend to cook. I read on a few travel blogs during our a-z folks looking for the chain restaurants in the travels…makes me want to do a face plant. Love your mission, it’s a worthy one. Mom and Pop, one of kind need to stay in business. Was traveling the last few days of the challenge so am playing catch up with returning comments. By the way it takes about 3 clicks vs 1 to get here. If you leave your name and url of your actual blog instead of your profile page on google +, people won’t have to hunt for you. Then when I found a link of your blog on your google + page vs comments you’ve left on other blogs you’ve visited it took me to a page that said your page didn’t exist…so I went back to your google+ and tried it a 2nd time, so actually I guess it took closer to 4 clicks to get to your nice blog. Wasn’t sure you were aware of all this, might be trouble with your settings? Hope you’re able to fix it, as it should increase people coming to your blog. I’m continuing the a-z blogging during May so hope to see you again. The link left above for my blog will take you right to my actual blog post. Let me know if you need help with the one click method etc.

    • Lila  says:

      Thank You so much for dropping by and yes, small independently owned restaurants all the way! Thank you especially for the helpful comments about my web address. I think I was not linking it properly and am working to fix the problem. Really appreciate your support and help. A-Z bloggers are awesome! :)

  • Tarkabarka  says:

    I used to go to Italy every fall for university excavations. The local families would feed us to death 😀 I love Italy, but the food was about to kill me. It’s good, but it comes in generous quantities, especially in the countryside 😀
    Fun theme! I am glad I found your blog :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Tales of colors
    MopDog – The crazy thing about Hungarians…

    • Lila  says:

      Thank You so much for dropping by. Congratulations on completing the blogging challenge. Lucky you-your trips to Italy sound fun and very hearty! :)

  • Lizzie  says:

    Oh how I’m salivating at some of these food posts…


    • Lila  says:

      Thank You for stopping by. I have been working hard revamping my blog so am very glad to hear that you’re enjoying the pictures. We are going to be in Brazil next month. Really looking forward to it and will definitely try to find your site. :)

  • Corinne  says:

    Lila, I’m with you on this one all the way. Of course we’ve eaten at our fair share of big chains, and they do serve a purpose, but let’s face it a Mom and Pop is always going to be better. I also love making connections and be counted as a regular…just love it!

    • Lila  says:

      Thank You Corinne as usual for stopping by and for your unwavering support! You’re awesome! :)

  • The Brunette  says:

    Olive Garden has a special place for me. I go there twice a year with “my judge.” He was my first job as a lawyer, swore me in to the bar, swore me to love my husband and swore me to be a good parent. It works because it feels like an “upgrade” but for depression era folks not a splurge. It is a place I would take my father because he would be comfortable.

    That said, if it is my husband and me with no child – you bet it is local eatery:)

    • Lila  says:

      Yes, the good things about big chain restaurants is that they generally do provide a large variety for a good value. But if you enjoy a more authentic and unique experience then the small, neighborhood eateries are the way to go. Grow local businesses-they enrich the community. :)

  • deniz  says:

    Congratulations on completing the A-Z! Love your theme for the Challenge. I’m really hungry now for all these yummy foods. I agree with you that it’s a good idea to patronise the smaller independent restaurants, though it’s true that the big chains have their place too.
    Hmm, what should I have for lunch… Italian or Dim Sum? I haven’t had Dim Sum in a while. The only bit of Cantonese I know is my favourite Dim Sum food – cha siu so :-)

    • Lila  says:

      Thank You for stopping by. I think you should have Italian AND Dim Sum-preferably at a small neighborhood eatery! I have enjoyed completing the A-Z blog challenge immensely and encourage all bloggers to participate. It is a good way to practice writing and discipline and the wonderful bloggers you meet along the way is most definitely worth the hard work. :)

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