Today is the Feast Day of Saint Bibiana. Not many know of this Virgin Martyr of the early church. She is the patron saint of Single Laywomen and Torture Victims. When you learn of her life and death, those make sense. She was single, and was tortured to death for her faith. Saint Bibiana is also the patron saint of Epilepsy, Hangovers, Headaches, Insanity and Mental Illness. Those are connections that escape me.
Little is known about Saint Bibiana. She was the daughter of Christians. Her father was tortured and sent into exile, where he died of his wounds. Her mother was beheaded for her faith. Bibiana and her sister, Demetria, were strip of all their possessions and forced into a life of poverty. Yet their faith was unwavering. They spent their days in prayer. Demetria is believed to have died of failing health as a result of sever poverty. After her sister’s death, Bibiana was asked to renounce her faith. She refused and was scourged, then left to die.
Saint Bibiana lived and died in 4th Century Rome. She, along with her mother and sister, were buried in their home. Today a church stand at the site.
In honor of Saint Bibiana, I offer you a simple yet not so traditional bowl of Zuppa Toscana and warm bread. This humble Tuscan Soup is delicious and warms the body as well as the soul. Enjoy!
Simple Zuppa Toscana
1/2 large Yellow Onion
4 large Russet Potatoes
1 lb bulk Pork Sausage
2 tablespoons minced Garlic
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes or to taste
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning or to taste
1 (32 oz) container Chicken Stock
1 cup Water, or as needed
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 bunch Kale
Parmesan Cheese for garnish
Peel onion, chop and set aside. Peel potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces. Hold in cold water until ready to use.
Press SAUTE on the instant pot, set time for 6 minutes, heat highest setting. Once at temperature, cook sausage, crumbling as it browns. Once cooked through, add garlic and onions. Cook until translucent. Press CANCEL.
Drain potatoes, place in the Instant Pot with the sausage mixture. Season with salt, black pepper, Italian Seasoning and red pepper flakes. Pour chicken stock on top. Add up to 1 cup water to cover potatoes fully. Stir soup gently. Lock lid into place. Select SLOW COOKER, set for 5 hours on LOW.
While the soup cooks. remove and discard stems from kale. Tear leaves into small bite-size pieces. Set aside.
Check potatoes after 5 hours. They should be fork-tender. When ready, add heavy cream into the soup. Stir in the kale. Lock lid in place, select SLOW COOK, HIGH setting for 30 minutes longer.
Remove lid, mash some of the potatoes with a potato masher to thicken the broth, leaving most of the potatoes in chunks.
Ladle soup into bowls, taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and enjoy. Great with warm, buttery bread.
Note: This soup can be easily made with a skillet and slow-cooker. Just brown the sausage, onions and garlic in the skillet, then throw everything into the slow cooker. Cooking times remain unchanged.