Zuppa Toscana

Two bowls of soup with spoons and pieces of bread dunked inside.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Gluten-Free45 minutes
This easy copycat Zuppa Toscana recipe is comforting and delicious! With sausage, kale, and potatoes, it’s one of our favorite mid-week meals.

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In college, my best girlfriends and I had a weekly tradition of heading to Olive Garden for lunch on Fridays for their soup, salad, and breadsticks deal. We’d load up on endless peach iced tea, breadsticks, and hearty soups while we spent hours talking about classes, boys, and our hopes and dreams. It was our own little version of the family dinner table.

The thought of those lazy Friday afternoons laughing with some of the best people I know still warms my soul. So even though I’m now more than 15 years removed from our Olive Garden Fridays, I like to bring a little bit of that tradition back to my own kitchen occasionally with my own copycat recipe of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup. This rich, creamy soup is packed with hearty potatoes, sausage, and bright kale—it’s sure to warm your belly and your soul (especially if you enjoy it with friends and endless peach iced tea).

Two bowls of zuppa toscana with spoons inside on a marble counter with slices of bread.

What is zuppa toscana?

Zuppa toscana is a hearty soup with a creamy broth base. It’s packed with spicy Italian sausage, potatoes, bacon, and bright, colorful kale.

In Italian, zuppa toscana literally translates to “Tuscan soup,” but don’t be fooled by the Italian name—this soup is a North American creation made most popular by Olive Garden. It is not a traditional Italian dish, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant in Tuscany that sells anything resembling it.

How do you make zuppa toscana?

This soup is a breeze to make:

  1. Brown Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Once cooked, remove from pan and set the cooked sausage aside to drain on paper towels.
  2. In the same pot, add the four slices of bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from pan, and set aside to cool and crumble.
  3. Add onions and garlic to the pot, and sauté in bacon grease.
  4. Add chicken broth to pot and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon until all the dark bits are incorporated into your mixture. Add in chopped russet potatoes.
  5. Simmer on medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to low, and then add heavy cream and torn kale leaves. Stir well, and let the kale wilt.
  7. Enjoy topped with the crispy bacon and fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.

Fresh ingredients for tuscan soup such as potatoes, kale, and garlic on a marble counter.

Can you use spinach instead of kale in this zuppa toscana recipe?

Sure can! We love kale for its ability to “stand up” to strong heat and not turn slimy or wilted, but if spinach is all you have on hand—go for it. Our only recommendation would be to cut the spinach into small to medium pieces before adding it to the soup to avoid big chunks fo wilted spinach.

How long is this soup good for in the fridge?

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Overhead of two bowls of finished soup with slices of bread and spoons beside them.

Can you freeze zuppa toscana soup?

You can! But be aware that the texture of potatoes does change slightly when frozen—they become a bit mealy and tend to fall apart. It works in this soup (it just helps to add to the creamy texture).

How do you reheat zuppa toscana?

We recommend reheating the soup in a small saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat.

What goes well with zuppa toscana soup?

 
Two bowls of soup with spoons and pieces of bread dunked inside.

Zuppa Toscana

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This easy copycat Zuppa Toscana recipe is comforting and delicious! With sausage, kale, and potatoes, it’s one of our favorite mid-week meals.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups of kale, destemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces (about half a bunch)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Brown sausage and red pepper flakes in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

  2. In the same pot, add the four slices of bacon and cook 5-7 minutes until crisp. Remove from pan, and set aside to cool and crumble. (Note: At this point there should be a fair amount of dark stuff on the bottom of your pot - do not fear! This is where all the flavor is.)

  3. Add onions and garlic to the pot, and sauté in bacon grease until translucent, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add ½ cup of chicken broth to pot and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon until all the dark bits are incorporated into your mixture. Add remaining broth and potatoes.

  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

  6. Reduce heat to low, and then add cream and kale.

  7. Cover pot for about 3 minutes to let the kale wilt and soften. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Once the soup is heated through, you are ready to eat. Serve garnished with crumbled bacon.

Notes

In order to control the spiciness of the recipe, we opted for mild Italian sausage. If so desired, feel free to use spicy Italian sausage and omit the red pepper flakes. You can also try turkey sausage, chorizo, or another favorite sausage.

All about the toppings? Add shredded Parmesan or another cheese of choice or even more red pepper flakes to dress it up.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 843Total Fat: 56gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 222mgSodium: 981mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 54g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

22 Responses
      1. Steph

        You rock woman! I just made this (subbed italian seasoned ground turkey for the sausage to make it more WW friendly and Silk Original creamer for the half and half since Clark’s allergic to dairy) and it was SOOOOOOOO good. Topped mine with a little shredded parm too – yum! Charlee even liked it! Thanks again!

    1. Ha! I love Australian wine (hence why I was drinking it). I just felt a little guilty writing a post about Italy and then cracking open a bottle of Yellow Tail at the end. 😛

  1. So, the part at the end where you say to turn the heat down as low as it’ll go–is there anything that you should do when cooking on an electric range? The heat stays on the coil for a while–you can always get hotter but you can’t really turn the heat down with a quickness the way you can with gas. (here’s someone else’s pic of their version of my stove: http://lh4.ggpht.com/_VzzFVv_ZbDU/Sn8kGP64TlI/AAAAAAAAAGY/eXzO04sr2j0/DSC00890.JPG)

    Any thoughts on compensation? I’ve only got one large coil and 3 itty bitty ones. 🙁

    1. Hmmm, I’ve never really cooked on electric. But since the coil retains heat, maybe just shut the burner down? Basically you want heat to still be going into to the soup to warm through the kale and cream, but you don’t want it high enough to scorch the cream.

  2. I’m back. Like a stalker, but not really. I just liked the look of this recipe. I’m ordering my groceries online and I found myself in a bit of a pickle concerning this recipe.
    In England they don’t have half and half OR the type of sausage you made it with. So I had to get diced chorizo, which I thought might work as a sub, and then single cream, which I think is like light cream in the States. I was thinking of making it a little thicker by using corn starch (Which they call corn flour over here. Look at all the useless knowledge you are learning about England).
    So, what I’m saying is that I wondered what your thoughts were on this since you have made this before.

    1. I think the chorizo and cream would work. Truthfully, you could probably even just use regular ole milk and the corn starch method. It’ll still be great! Happy eating. 🙂

  3. Jenn

    Cassie, this was delish! I was torn between soup and pasta so I replaced the potatoes with ravioli stuffed with potatoes and pecorino, yummy. This was so easy too. Thanks for another great recipe!

  4. Amanda

    Gee! I just made this and it was AMAZING! My boyfriend thinks I’m a domestic goddess now lol and his mom said “Wow Amanda, I’m impressed!” Thank you so much for the delicious recipe!

  5. Julee

    This is a wonderful recipe and your pictures are beautiful….this is a funny question but what brand are your white bowls pictured here? fiesta? they are lovely. thank you!!!

  6. Ilaria

    Hello, I’m from Italy and I would like to know where is this soup originally from. You say it’s a traditional Italian soup but it’s not, like many other so called “Italian recipes” in the us. So I was wondering if anybody knows where it comes from.
    Thank you
    Ilaria

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