If there's anything you should know about me, it's that I will never pass up the chance to try new foods. Especially Italian food. Because breadsticks. And pasta. And everything else that is carb and holy. So this week, I decided to do a mini taste-test of my own at a popular American-Italian food chain: Olive Garden.
This restaurant is known for serving endless breadsticks, massive salad bowls, pasta dishes, and of course: the soups. We all have our favorites out of the #soupsquad (like Minestrone for me!), but I wanted to see for myself which one truly was the best. Keep on reading for a comparison of each soup, including nutrition, taste, and PICS!*
*Disclaimer: The only soup I did not try was Pasta Fagioli, which is basically an Italian Chili-style soup. My time and tummy ran out before I could get to it *cries*
Soup 1: Chicken and Gnocchi
Yes, that is an actual image of this heavenly soup with a name that nobody can pronounce (is it G-nocchi, nocchi, gnocch? Who knows honestly!). This soup was probably my second favorite to Minestrone before the taste test, and here's where it stacks up afterwards:
Taste: First Place
My favorite thing about Chicken and Gnocchi soup is that it is so dang creamy! It also goes the best with the shaved cheese topping, in my opinion. This soup does not taste overly salty, as do the other soups like Minestrone and Zuppa Toscana. It is also loaded with delicious chicken and veggies to add a nice, meaty flavor to the creamy broth. However, the fact that this soup tastes so amazing isn't pure coincidence...
Nutrition: Third Place
While I ranked this soup as first for taste, it definitely sits last for nutrition. Just a look at the nutrition facts for this soup is enough to make any healthy human scream. The macros I am going to focus on are:
Fat: 12 g
Cholesterol: 55 mg
Carbohydrates: 22 g
Protein: 11 g
What shocked me the most about this soup is how much sodium is in one bowl, mainly because it didn't even taste that salty. It is also the highest in calories, carbs, and cholesterol of the other soups. However, where this soup does win is in protein, with a generous 11 g per serving. Bottom line: if you choose this soup, make healthier decisions for the main course and beverages, and skip the dessert.
Soup 2: Zuppa Toscana
If you enjoy a hearty soup with a kick, then Zuppa Toscana is definitely for you! This bowl is loaded with spicy Italian sausage, BACON (can you tell I love it or nah?), cream, and kale. Here's how it compares:
Taste: Second Place
I gotta be honest: it was incredibly difficult to decide between Minestrone and Zuppa Toscana for second place. But what won me over in this soup? The meat. I loved how the bacon and spicy sausage added a rich, zesty flavor to the soup, and also tasted delicious on their own. The kale was simmered to perfection and cut some of the spice out, which makes this soup possible to consume for us spicy-h8rs (like me). But just like Chicken and Gnocchi, this delicious soup comes at a dietary cost.
Nutrition: Second Place
In terms of nutrition, Zuppa Toscana actually sits right below Chicken and Gnocchi in almost every category of the nutritional chart. Here's everything you should know:
Fat: 15 g
Cholesterol: 40 mg
Sodium: 790 mg
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Protein: 7 g
Because of the higher-fat ingredients (i.e. bacon and sausage), Zuppa Toscana actually contains more fat than Chicken and Gnocchi, coming in at 15 g per bowl versus 12 g per bowl. What makes it better than Chicken and Gnocchi is that it contains less cholesterol, less carbs, and waaaaaaayyyy less sodium. While not the healthiest choice, you can feel better getting your favorite pasta dish after eating this soup.
Soup 3: Minestrone
If there was a category for most Insta-worthy soup, Minestrone would 30/10 win. As the photo shows, this delicious dish is chock full of veggies like tomatoes, zucchini, Italian green beans, onion, kidney beans-- all mixed in with shell pasta noodles. This was one of my favorite soups for a few reasons, but the biggest has to be the taste...
Taste: Third Place
When you first try a spoonful of Minestrone, your tastebuds are hit with a flavorful burst of vegetables, all simmered in a tasty, tomato-esque broth. This is why I love the Minestrone soup. However, the initial flavor is quickly usurped by an overwhelming salty taste, which is why I knocked my previous favorite to the bottom of the taste tier. If you are a fan of saltier-tasting meals, then this soup is definitely up your alley. But it is also the perfect fit for another group of people: the fit crowd!
Nutrition: First Place
If the veggie-overload of this soup didn't give it away, the Minestrone wins in the nutrition category. Here's what makes this soup a fit-feast:
Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 810 mg
Carbohydrates: 17 g
Protein: 5 g
I love this soup because it contains no cholesterol and very little fat per bowl. The only downfall of Minestrone lies in the high sodium count, which lends to the salty taste I get from eating it. But let's be honest: soup in general is a high-sodium food, no matter what you eat. In the end, Minestrone is a good choice for any Olive Garden guest looking to eat more than just soup and breadsticks as their meal. It is tasty, hearty, and healthy enough to wet your appetite for the main course!
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