One bite of this homemade Zuppa Toscana Soup will make you forget all about the Olive Garden's version! This easy recipe is wholesome, cozy, and oh-so flavorful.
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If you're a fan of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup, this recipe will change your life. I'd call it a copycat version, but I honestly believe it's even better than the one from the restaurant. Sumptuous Italian sausage, Russet potatoes, onions, bacon and more come together in a spicy, creamy chicken-based broth.
Now that your tummy is fully rumbling, you'll be happy to know that this recipe is incredibly simple. The soup comes together in a single pot! You can also make it in a slow cooker to avoid heating up your kitchen in the summertime. Convenient, right?
If you're wondering why anyone would want to eat soup when it's warm outside, just wait until you taste this crave-worthy Zuppa Toscana. You'll be transported to the rolling hills of Tuscany!
What is Zuppa Toscana?
Zuppa Toscana is Italian for "Tuscan soup." While this Americanized version may not be totally Tuscan-style, it's a classic Italian-inspired dish nonetheless. Traditional Zuppa Toscana features bread, beans, potatoes, Italian bacon and fresh veggies.
As we discussed, this recipe is modeled after the Olive Garden version with Italian sausage, potatoes and kale. It's a little richer and creamier than traditional Toscana soup, but it maintains that authentic Italian feel and flavor profile. If you'd like to make yours more or less traditional, go right ahead!
Let's go over the ingredients you'll need to throw together this crowd-favorite comfort food. Refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for specific amounts.
- Bacon: Chopped into chunks of your desired size (note that the bacon will shrink as it cooks).
- Italian Sausage: Feel free to use spicy, sweet or a mix of both. Don't forget to remove the casings.
- Olive Oil
- Chopped Yellow Onion
- Garlic: Freshly minced.
- Russet Potatoes: Cut into ¼-inch slices with the peels intact.
- Chicken Broth
- Salt & Pepper
- Fresh Kale: Remove the stems and chop up the leaves. The stems can be discarded.
- Heavy Cream
- Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated cheese is the way to go.
How to Make Zuppa Toscana Soup
This soul-warming soup comes together in 30 minutes or less. Here's the gameplan:
Cook Bacon: In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until it's crispy. Once it's cooked to your liking, transfer it to a plate lined with a paper towel and drain the bacon fat.
Brown Sausage: Add the sausage to the same pot you used for the bacon and cook it until it's browned. Transfer it to the plate with the bacon, then wipe out the dutch oven and add the olive oil.
Sauté Onion & Garlic: Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook until it softens, about 3-5 minutes. Next, add the garlic and continue to cook while stirring for another 30-60 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.
Return Meat to Pot: Add the drained bacon and sausage back into the pot with the sautéed onion and garlic.
Add Potatoes, Liquids & Seasonings: Add the potatoes, chicken broth, water, salt and pepper to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil.
Cook: Once the soup starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the soup for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are almost tender.
Add Kale & Continue Cooking: Add the kale and let the soup simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until the kale is tender and the potatoes are soft but not falling apart.
Add Cream: Stir in the cream and wait for the soup to get heated through again.
Garnish & Serve: Ladle your Zuppa Toscana into bowls and serve it with freshly grated Parmesan sprinkled over each helping.
Tips for Success
Don't settle for less-than-perfect soup! Use these Zuppa Toscana tips to make sure you're showing the Olive Garden version who's boss.
- Drain the Meat Well: It's important to drain as much fat as you can from the bacon and sausage before you return the cooked meat to your pot. Use a second paper towel if necessary.
- Order Matters: Don't add the kale and heavy cream to your soup at the same time as the other ingredients. The kale would become too soft and the cream would curdle. As long as you follow the recipe instructions, you'll be golden.
- Remove Excess Fat: If you find that your soup retained some unwanted grease from the bacon and sausage, you can easily remove it with a little patience and care. Let your finished soup rest in the pot (removed from the heat) for 10 minutes. This allows the grease to collect on the surface – use your ladle to slowly skim it off.
There are tons of different ways you can go about your Toscana soup. Take the ideas below for example!
- Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana: If you'd like to make your soup in the Crock Pot, I recommend pre-cooking the bacon, sausage, onion and garlic on the stovetop as usual. After that, you just have to toss your ingredients into the slow cooker and let it work its magic! Scroll down to the recipe card for the full Crock Pot instructions.
- Paleo Zuppa Toscana: This naturally gluten-free soup can easily be adjusted to accommodate Paleo, dairy-free and Whole30 diets. Simply swap out the cream for coconut cream (the thick, fluffy stuff in a can of coconut milk that separates from the milk as it sits) and make sure all of your meat is Paleo/Whole30-compliant.
- Loaded Zuppa Toscana: Want to load up your soup with a bunch of yummy toppings? Feel free! Fresh chopped oregano, spicy red pepper flakes and crispy crackers or crusty cubes of sourdough bread would be divine.
You can pair this classic soup with pretty much any dish on the planet – chances are, you'll love the results! For a nourishing meal that truly captures the appeal of your favorite restaurant, whip up a quick Olive Garden Salad.
If you want to try something you wouldn't be able to get at the popular Italian chain, I highly recommend pairing your soup with Homemade Corn Bread or Cheesy Garlic Mozzarella Swirl Rolls. Drooling yet?
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
After it cools completely, leftover Toscana soup should be refrigerated in an airtight container. Enjoy it within 4-5 days for the best results.
Individual portions can be microwaved in a heat-proof bowl for 20-30 seconds at a time. If you'd like to reheat a large quantity of soup, you can do so over a low-heat stove. Stir occasionally and serve the soup once it's heated through.
Can I Freeze This?
It's best to serve this soup fresh, but you can store your leftovers in the freezer if necessary. Transfer the cooled soup to a freezer-safe container, leaving 1-2 inches of extra space so the liquid has room to expand.
Only freeze your Zuppa Toscana for 2-3 weeks. Thaw it out in the fridge before you reheat it, giving it a thorough stir if the ingredients have separated.
More Cozy Soups to Try
Soup is the ultimate form of comfort food. These ultra-cozy creations will sweep you off your feet!
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
- ½ pound bacon about 8 slices, chopped
- 1 pound Italian sausage casings removed (spicy, sweet, or a mix of both)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ pounds Russett potatoes 3 large or 4 medium, sliced in half, then into ¼-inch slices with peels on
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups fresh kale stems removed and leaves chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large stock pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan to a plate lined with paper towel and drain the bacon fat.
- Add the sausage to the pan and cook until browned. Remove to the plate along with the bacon, then wipe out the dutch oven and add the olive oil.
- When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook while stirring, for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the drained bacon and sausage back into the dutch oven with the onion & garlic.
- Add the potatoes, chicken broth, water, salt and pepper to the dutch oven or stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are almost tender.
- Add the kale and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart and the kale is tender. Stir in the cream and heat through, then ladle into bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan sprinkled over the top.
Crock Pot Method
- In a medium pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan to the slow cooker with a slotted spoon and drain the bacon fat. Add the sausage to the pan and cook until browned. Remove to the slow cooker along with the bacon.
- Wipe out the pan and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook while stirring, for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Add to the crockpot along with the bacon and sausage.
- Add the potatoes, chicken broth, water, salt and pepper to the crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours until potatoes are tender.
- Add the kale and cream and cook for another 30 minutes until heated through. Ladle into bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan sprinkled over the top.
- I use 2 mild, sweet Italian sausages and 1 spicy Italian sausage, but you can use all spicy or all mild, depending on your personal preference.
- To Store: Refrigerate cooled soup in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Microwave individual servings for 20-30 seconds at a time. Reheat large portions in a pot over low heat until soup is warmed through.
- To Freeze: Freeze cooled soup in a freezer-safe container for 3 weeks max. Be sure to leave 1-2 inches of space in the container so the liquid can expand. Thaw soup in the fridge before reheating – give it a thorough stir if the ingredients have separated.
This post was originally published in August, 2017. The photos and content were updated in August, 2022.