Look no further than this here best ever Olive Garden-inspired Zuppa Toscana recipe! This cozy + comforting creamy soup features juicy Italian sausage, leafy kale, hearty potatoes, crumbled bacon, and more!

zuppa toscana in speckled bowl with yellow linen on the side

Okayyy so the weather in Florida right now has been absolute heaven, y’all. For weeks we’ve been consistently blessed with nice and cool breeze. The temps have gotten so low that I’ve had to pull out my beanies and multiple layers of clothes; like, what is life in Florida at this moment?! Bwahahaha. Listen, when you live in a perpetually hot a$$ state like mine, you truly bask in these rare moments. Although, I know some of you that experience negative degree type of weather are giving me the side eye lol. Let me live.

Technically the term cozy is an adjective that evokes feelings of comfort, warmth, and an overall pleasantly relaxed vibe. However, to me, I like to think of coziness as a state of living and being. No matter the weather outside or the season, give me all the comforting and warm things! And nothing says cozy more than a heaping bowl of delicious soup. This Olive Garden-inspired cult favorite is famous for a reason, peeps!

black hand holding spoon in speckled bowl of Zuppa Toscana

What Does Zuppa Toscana Mean?

So, Zuppa Toscana is a general term that means “Tuscan soup” with Italy being the place of origin. A classic and more authentic Zuppa Toscana may feature beans and/or other vegetable components inside of a lighter based soup broth. The very popular Italian-American restaurant, Olive Garden, has transformed (and Americanized lol) this soup into a more richer and slightly heavier version with heartier ingredients.

Ingredients To Make This Zuppa Toscana

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Bacon: I like to use thick-cut bacon slices as opposed to regular bacon because it’s more meatier and gives off more flavor. However, you can still use regular bacon if need be!
  • Italian (hot) sausage: You can grab it in bulk (ground) or still in the casings, just be sure to remove the casings beforehand. If you prefer to use mild sausage, go for it boo.
  • Onion: Just one medium-sized yellow onion- finely chopped!
  • Garlic: I’m using four cloves here- you can also use garlic paste (about 2 teaspoons) too.
  • Seasonings: Simple spices like salt, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes (optional).
  • All-purpose flour: This acts as a binder to absorb the fat and help thicken the Zuppa Toscana by bringing everything together. You can use arrowroot flour as a gluten-free alternative route.
  • Kale: A nice bunch! I like to use, and prefer, lacinto kale (also known as dinosaur kale) when making this particular soup. Although, feel free to use commonly found curly kale and pre-bagged kale in a pinch!
  • Potatoes: Russet potatoes add some heartiness! Other substitutes include gold (yellow) or red skinned potatoes, and you can peel the skin or keep it on if you wish.
  • Chicken broth: One of the liquids to make up the broth- you can use stock as well.
  • Heavy cream: Adds some nice creaminess to the Zuppa Toscana.
  • Butter: Goes in near the end of the simmering stage along with the liquid.
  • Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated, of course, and gives the soup so much flavor!
large white pot full of Zuppa Toscana on marble surface

I just love this Zuppa Toscana recipe so much you guys! It’s so easy to make and incredibly delicious with crazy good flavor! This recipe is super flexible as well, meaning it could be served as an appetizer or a main course. Make it for nearly any occasion or those times when you just want something warm and…cozy!

What Makes This Zuppa Toscana The Best

Flavor, flavor, flavor! At the start of this recipe, it begins with cooking the bacon. The bacon renders its own fat after cooking, then reserved and used to sauté the aromatics in. The flavor from the bacon is all throughout this Zuppa Toscana! Additionally, freshly grated parmesan cheese takes it up a notch by adding even more of a flavor bomb, y’all. Each bite is packed with ample texture and creamy hearty goodness.

More Deliciousness To Try

black hand with ladle in pot of Zuppa Toscana

Wanna Lighten This Zuppa Toscana Recipe?

If you’re looking for lighter or alternate recipe swaps + substitutes, I got you!

  • All purpose flour: Use arrowroot flour or other gluten-free flour.
  • Potatoes: You can use a head of cauliflower for a low carbohydrate option.
  • Heavy cream: Use coconut milk/cream and even non-flavored dairy-free creamer.
  • Parmesan cheese: Use nutritional yeast in place, still adds a “cheesy” flavor.

Can I Make This Using A Slow Cooker?

Yes! This recipe can also be made using a traditional slow cooker/crockpot. To make it using this version there are just a few things to do beforehand via the stovetop and then you’re good to go.

  1. Cook the bacon as directed and then set aside.
  2. Sauté the onion/garlic mixture together as directed.
  3. Brown the sausage and season with spices as directed.
  4. Place the onions, garlic, and sausage into slow cooker vessel.
  5. Add in the chopped potatoes and chicken broth to cover everything completely.
  6. Cook on low setting for 5-6 hours or on high setting for 3-4 hours.
  7. One hour before cooking is complete; check for the potatoes to be fork tender and then stir in the flour until dissolved and add in the kale, cream, butter, and cheese- mixing well to combine. Continue cooking for the last hour, again, making sure to stir everything before serving.
  8. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning to preference, if desired. Serve and top with bacon/cheese.
black hand holding the side of speckled bowl full of Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana In The Instant Pot

Oh yasss, all of the kitchen appliance gadgets can get this Zuppa Toscana love, ha!

  1. Using a 6-quart instant pot set to the sauté function, add the bacon and fry. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and set aside while leaving the residual bacon grease in the pot.
  2. Add in the onions and sauté together until soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Toss in the garlic and continue cooking together for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage in and use a wooden spoon to crumble sausage into pieces. Stirring often, cook the sausage until completely browned, about 3-5 minutes, and season with spices.
  5. Place the potatoes into the pot along with the broth and cheese.
  6. Switch the IP setting to manual and adjust the pressure to high and timing at 5 minutes.
  7. When done cooking, allow the IP to naturally release its pressure.
  8. Dump in the flour and stir very well until flour dissolves. Then stir in the cream and add in the kale, stirring until kale wilts down, about 2-3 minutes.
  9. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning to preference, if desired. Serve and top with bacon/cheese.

This Zuppa Toscana recipe is one of my fave kinds of soups to make. I also love to serve it alongside some crusty bread to help sop up the broth. In addition, you can serve it alongside some garlic bread orrrrr my loaded olive cheese bread for extra goodness. And don’t forget your glass of wine, hope you enjoy!

speckled bowl full of Zuppa Toscana with spoon

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UNTIL NEXT TIME…LOVE AND BUTTER,

Q.

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speckled bowl full of Zuppa Toscana with spoon

Best Ever Zuppa Toscana

  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15m
  • Cook Time: 30m
  • Total Time: 45m
  • Yield: 67 1x
  • Category: Appetizers, Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Whip up this famous Olive Garden classic at home- delectably creamy and extra hearty is this cozy soup! Perfect for any occasion to serve as an appetizer or a main course!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 lb hot Italian sausage, ground or links (casings removed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 bunch fresh kale, stems removed and roughly chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 32 ounces (4 cups) chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot/dutch oven over medium heat, add the bacon directly into pot and cook until bacon releases its fat and cooks through completely until crispy, about 6-7 minutes. Be sure to stir the bacon often for even cooking. Then use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon pieces onto a plate lined with a paper towel, and set aside.
  2. Add the chopped onions into the same pot and sauté the onions in the leftover bacon grease until they become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add in the garlic and continue cooking together for another 1-2 minutes. Look for the onions to be golden and tender and overall mixture to be nice and fragrant.
  3. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage into crumbles. Cook the sausage until all pieces are browned throughout. Then season the sausage with salt, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes, while stirring again to combine. 
  4. Dump in the flour and stir everything together until the flour dissolves and soaks up any leftover grease. Toss in the kale and gently sauté it along with the sausage mixture for about 1-2 minutes. Then add in the potatoes along with the broth, cream, and butter. Stir everything together to fully combine and cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the soup to come up to a nice simmer for about 15 minutes. Make sure the potatoes are fork tender.
  5. Lastly, stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste soup and adjust seasonings, if desired. If you prefer, add in the reserved bacon pieces directly into the soup or see next step.
  6. Serve the soup warm and garnish with reserved bacon and more parmesan cheese, if desired.

Notes

  1. Storing: Leftover soup will keep in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container for up to three days. Simply reheat via the stovetop or microwave. Add more broth to help loosen the soup to your desired texture, only if needed.
  2. For slow cooker/instant pot cooking methods, see blog post for directions.
  3. Please read blog post in its entirety for additional tip + tricks.

Keywords: italian, soup, sausage, kale, appetizers