This recipe was originally published on December 22, 2017.
Craving a comforting bowl of soup on a chilly winter day? Try this easy copycat zuppa toscana soup. If you're a dedicated fan of this popular item from Olive Garden, I'll let you in on a little secret: it's really easy to make a copycat version of this delicious soup at home!
Zuppa toscana roughly translates from Italian as "soup in the style of Tuscany." The classic version comes from the Tuscany region in Italy, and is made with veggies, cannellini beans, Italian bacon, and Tuscany bread, along with olive oil, potatoes, and spices.
The Americanized version, made popular by Olive Garden, omits the beans and bread, and adds Italian sausage, kale, and heavy cream.
- Meat: Italian sausage, bacon
- Vegetables: onion, garlic, kale, russet potatoes (sliced or diced)
- Liquid: chicken or vegetable stock and water
- Spices: salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning
- Dairy: half and half, whole milk, heavy cream, evaporated milk, grated hard chees
Is this recipe gluten free?
Yes, the good news is this recipe can easily be made gluten free. Make sure the chicken stock you use is gluten free, and then thicken the soup with mashed potatoes instead of a flour and water slurry.
How can I thicken this kind of soup?
- Mashed Potatoes: Remove some cooked diced potatoes, mash them, and return to the pot.
- Cornstarch Slurry: Use 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Make a slurry and pour it in the soup.
- Roux: Sprinkle flour on the cooked onion garlic mixture. Cook the flour for two minutes while whisking.
- Stale Bread: Tear up some bread, let it soak in some hot broth, then puree it and add it to the pot.
What are the calories for one serving?
A 1 ¼ cup serving size contains 439 calories and 23.1g of carbs. This recipe is also high in protein and vitamins A and C. For more nutritional information, scroll to the bottom of the recipe card.
How long is this recipe good for?
Once the soup has cooled completely, you can store the soup in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge. Reheat the soup in a pot over medium heat.
Can you freeze this?
If you are planning on freezing some of this soup, it's best to freeze it without the kale and heavy cream. This soup can be frozen for up to one month.
When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a pot over medium heat, lower the heat to medium low then add in the kale cook 5 minutes, then add in the cream and heat through.
How can I make this recipe in a crock pot?
- Cook the bacon, sausage, onions and garlic in a large skillet. Drain the fat.
- Add the onion mixture to a large crock pot. Pour in the chicken stock, filtered water and potatoes. Make sure the liquid covers the potatoes.
- Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- To thicken the broth, remove some of the cooked potatoes, mash them, and return to the crock pot.
- During the last 30 minutes, on the high setting, stir in the kale, cream, cooked sausage. Taste, adjust seasonings, if necessary.
- Serve warm with a sprinkle of Romano cheese and garnish with crispy bacon.
- Bread: crusty Italian bread, rolls, or Olive Garden style bread sticks
- Salad: Caesar salad, cucumber salad, tomato salad, or a simple green salad
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Chop the onion and bacon, then mince the garlic. Grate the cheese and measure out the spices and liquids.
Fry the chopped bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it's crisp.
Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and place it on a paper towel-lined plate.
Pour the bacon grease into a small bowl. Measure out 1 tablespoon and pour back into the pot.
Cook the Italian sausage over medium high heat until all the pink is gone. Break up the sausage with a wooden turner.
Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Pour any sausage fat from the pot into a small bowl.
Heat up 1 tablespoon of bacon fat over medium high heat, then saute the chopped onion until soft. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute while constantly stirring.
To deglaze the pan, pour in ⅓ cup of chicken stock.
Use a wooden turner to scrape the brown bits off the bottom.
Add the spices: black pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, and Italian seasoning.
Pour in the reduced sodium chicken broth and the filtered water, then give the soup a good stir.
Add the diced potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are done.
If you want to thicken the soup, remove some of the cooked potatoes and mash them then add them back into the pot.
Add the chopped kale and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Stir the soup frequently to help release the starch from the potatoes.
Add the sausage.
Pour in the heavy cream and add ⅔ of the crumbled bacon, reserving some for garnish. Let the soup heat through for 5 minutes, being careful not to boil the soup.
Stir the soup. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
If you want, you can skim any fat from the sausage off the top of the soup with a large spoon.
Serve the soup warm with a garnish of crumbled bacon, grated Romano, and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- Potatoes: cauliflower, turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes
- Kale: spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens
- Meat: chicken
- Protein: mushrooms or cannellini beans
- Dairy Free: full fat coconut milk, cashew cream
- Add-ins: gnocchi, tortellini
- Need this dairy free? Use coconut milk or homemade cashew cream.
- Want this with no potatoes? Use bite sized roasted cauliflower pieces.
- Want this spicy? Use hot Italian sausage and add more red pepper flakes.
- Need this vegan? Use 24 ounces of mushrooms, fennel, smoked paprika, and cashew cream or coconut milk.
- Need a meat lover's version? Increase the sausage, bacon, and chicken stock.
- Emeril Lagasse Dutch Oven: this heavy-bottomed pot is our favorite for cooking soups.
- Wooden Turner: effortlessly deglaze pans and stir veggies with this sturdy wooden spoon.
- Bounty Paper Towels: these thick, absorbent paper towels make it easy to blot grease off bacon.
- Potato Masher: this top-rated potato masher is easy to clean and easy to use.
- Soup Ladle: everyone needs a trusty ladle in their drawer for serving homemade soups.
Looking for more delicious Italian soups? You should try these great recipes.
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Easy copycat zuppa toscana soup is a knock off recipe of the favorite Olive Garden classic. It's full of Italian sausage, healthy kale, and tender potatoes, along with a rich, creamy broth. Learn how to make this popular soup in your crockpot or in your Dutch oven on the stove. It's perfect for a crowd on a chilly day.
- 5 strips of bacon, cut in bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed (455g)
- 2 cups white onion, chopped (265g)
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock (1.420 liters)
- 2 cups filtered water (475 ml)
- 4 cups russet potatoes, diced (2 lb; 907g)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 4 cups fresh kale, packed (77g)
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream (355 ml)
- ¼ cup grated Romano cheese (20g)
- Fry the bacon pieces in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crispy. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate, and pour the fat into a small bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon of bacon fat to the pot and cook the Italian sausage until no pink remains. Break up the meat into crumbles with a wooden turner. Drain to separate any fat and place the sausage on a paper towel-lined plate. Pour the sausage fat into a small bowl.
- Put one tablespoon of bacon fat in the pot over medium high heat. Saute the diced onion until soft, then add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
- To deglaze the pan, pour in ⅓ to ½ cup (80-120 ml) of chicken stock. Use a wooden turner to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add all the spices, stir, and cook for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Pour in the rest of the chicken stock and all the water, then add the diced potatoes. Stir well, cover the pot, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- Remove some of the potatoes and place in a large bowl. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth, then pour them back in and stir well. This will help thicken the broth.
- Add the kale and cook for 5 minutes or until wilted, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and pour in the heavy cream, the Italian sausage, and most of the bacon. Stir well, and let it heat through for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm and garnish with grated Romano cheese and the remaining bacon.
Crock Pot Version
- Follow steps 1 to 5 from above.
- Place the sauteed onion and garlic in a large crock pot, then add the chicken stock, water, and potatoes. Stir well, cover, and cook on low for 6 hours.
- Add the kale, cream, cooked sausage, and half of the crumbled bacon. Stir, cover, and cook on low for another 2 hours.
- Serve warm with grated cheese, and the reserved bacon.
- Prep Time: 50 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: easy zuppa toscana soup recipe, italian soup recipes