This copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipe is better than the restaurant's! Sweet Italian sausage, smoky bacon, tender potatoes and fresh kale all come together in a light, creamy broth. Serve a warm bowl of the easy homemade soup with a side salad and garlic bread for a hearty and satisfying dinner.
Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana
"Zuppa Toscana" is a general term that literally translates to "Tuscan Soup." An authentic zuppa toscana is traditionally made with kale, zucchini, cannellini beans, potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, tomato pulp, extra virgin olive oil, salt, powdered chili, toasted Tuscan bread, and rigatino (an Italian bacon). The North American version of this soup, which has been widely popularized at the chain restaurant Olive Garden, is decidedly not authentic! This soup is made with Italian sausage, onion, bacon, cream, potatoes and kale for a richer twist on the classic. While it might not be your Nonna's original recipe, the easy, made-from-scratch dish sure is delicious!
How to Make Zuppa Toscana Soup
Whip up your own better-than-Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipe in about an hour for a fraction of the cost!
Zuppa Toscana Ingredients
- Italian sausage
- Russet potatoes
- Chicken broth
- Heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
Step 1: Brown Sausage
Cook the sausage in a large Dutch oven, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
Step 2: Cook Bacon
Cook the chopped bacon in the pot until crispy, then remove to the plate with the sausage.
Step 3: Soften Onions and Garlic
Cook the onions and garlic in the same pot until soft (this will only take about 5 minutes).
Step 4: Add Liquid
Sprinkle flour into the pot (this will help thicken the soup), cook for 1 minute, and then gradually pour in the chicken broth. Add the potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook at a low boil until the potatoes are tender (about 10-15 minutes).
Step 5: Return Meat
Stir the sausage and bacon back into the soup, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Step 6: Add Kale and Cream
Finally, stir in the chopped kale and the heavy cream. Warm the soup over low heat just until the kale wilts.
Step 7: Serve
Ladle the soup into individual bowls, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese or chopped fresh parsley, and serve!
What to Serve with Easy Zuppa Toscana
A warm bowl of soup wouldn't be complete without a crusty loaf of bread for dipping! Try a French baguette, this No-Knead Bread, or some homemade Garlic Bread. If you'd like to add more greens to the meal, a crisp Caesar salad or a simple green salad with Italian Balsamic Vinaigrette would both be great.
How to Thicken Homemade Zuppa Toscana
This soup should naturally be pretty brothy, thanks to just a small amount of flour and a large amount of chicken broth. If you prefer a thicker soup, you can make a cornstarch slurry by mixing 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch with 2-3 tablespoons of additional heavy cream. Add the cornstarch slurry to the soup at the same time that you add the cream. Let it simmer on low and stir regularly until the soup thickens and the kale wilts.
Allow leftover soup to cool to room temperature. Pack in airtight containers and refrigerate for 3-4 days. Reheat the soup over low on the stovetop just until warmed through (do not let it boil). Alternatively, you can warm individual bowls of soup in the microwave for about 1 minute.
Do not freeze the homemade Zuppa Toscana soup. The cream-based broth will "break" when thawed, giving the dish an undesirable look and texture.
Recipe Variations -- Copycat Zuppa Toscana Recipe
- Use spicy Italian sausage and crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
- Dice potatoes into uniform pieces so that they cook evenly.
- For a lighter broth, use half-and-half instead of heavy cream. It will not have quite the same rich mouthfeel, but it will still be tasty!
- Make the Zuppa Toscana with spinach instead of kale. Spinach wilts quickly and doesn't hold as much shape or texture in soup, so add it during the final 1-2 minutes of cooking.
- For a lower carb option, replace the potatoes with cauliflower florets.
- If available, try substituting pancetta for the bacon.
Tips for the Best Zuppa Toscana Recipe
- When adding the broth to the pot, deglaze the pan by scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. This adds so much flavor to the soup!
- Allow the cream to come to room temperature before stirring it into the soup.
- Once you add the cream, do not let the soup boil. If you boil the cream, the soup may curdle.
More of the Best Olive Garden Soups to Make at Home
- Minestrone Soup
- Pasta Fagioli Soup
- Chicken Tortellini Soup
- Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
- 1 lb. sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- For serving: grated Parmesan; chopped fresh parsley; baguette
- Brown sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.
- In the same pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to the plate with the sausage.
- Drain off almost all of the grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pot. Add onions and cook over medium-high heat just until soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Sprinkle flour over top, and cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the chicken broth, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot (there’s so much flavor there!). Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Gently boil for about 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
- Reduce heat to low. Stir in cooked sausage and bacon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Add kale and cream. Cook and stir for about 5 more minutes, or until kale is wilted. Do not boil. Ladle into individual bowls, garnish with Parmesan or parsley, and serve!