Zuppa Toscana is a whole meal in just one pot! Sweet Italian sausage, kale, and potatoes make this Olive Garden soup the perfect winter dinner, and it’s easy enough for a busy weeknight meal.
Comfort foods are a must on cold winter nights. Zuppa Toscana is the perfect hearty soup to warm your soul and your stomach.
This classic one-pot Italian soup is packed with sweet Italian sausage, bright green kale, garlic, onions, potatoes, and of course bacon. Simmer it all in chicken broth, and add a splash of half and half at the end for the creamiest soup!
I love going to Olive Garden just for their Tuscan soup and breadsticks. This copycat Zuppa Toscana is my all-time favorite!
Is Zuppa Toscana Italian?
Italian food has some of the most comforting dishes. But is this classic soup really Italian?
Absolutely! It’s an Olive Garden favorite, but it has real roots in Italy. Zuppa is an Italian word that literally means “soup,” and Toscana just refers to food from Tuscany.
This rustic Italian soup is made with Italian sausage, kale, vegetables, beans, potatoes, and some bread.
This is a basic shopping list for this creamy Zuppa Toscana. You probably already have most of these things in your kitchen!
- Italian sausage
- Chicken broth
- Half and half
- Kale leaves
I use Jumbo Russets because I normally buy those in a 10-pound bag. I have used red potatoes in pinch. Be sure to slide red potatoes a bit thicker, or they will fall apart.
I like to keep the skins on my potatoes in this recipe. If you do the same, make sure you scrub the potatoes before using. No one wants dirt in their soup!
Here’s some tips and tricks to make the best Zuppa Toscana soup ever! For the full list of instructions and ingredients, check out the recipe card at the end of this post.
- First, brown the Italian sausage in the soup pot and set it aside when it is cooked.
- Then, add the bacon to the pan and cook until perfectly crispy. When done, put it with the sausage. You want to keep a couple of tablespoons of fat.
- Now, add the onions and garlic to the remaining grease and cook until they’re translucent.
- Next, return the Italian sausage and bacon to the pan with the chicken broth and bring to simmer.
- Once it’s simmering, add the potatoes and simmer until they’re perfectly fork-tender.
- Add the kale and simmer just until it has softened and turned a bright green.
- Finally, add the half and half, and simmer until hot.
I prefer sweet Italian sausage, but regular or even hot will work in this amazing Italian soup.
For a more authentic Olive garden version, do not add the half and half or the kale until you are ready to serve the soup. Take the amount of soup you want to serve, add it into a smaller pan, and heat up the soup until hot. Add the kale and allow it to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, or just until it turns bright green. Remove from the heat and add the half and half.
Can You Freeze It?
This Zuppa Toscana recipe makes enough to feed an army! If you don’t have a family of 12 —or just a very hungry bunch — be ready for leftovers.
Normally I’d steer clear of freezing any soup with dairy, but the limited amount of half and half in the mix won’t affect the texture much.
You can always make the soup without the cream, freeze it, and add the heavy cream or half and half when you reheat it!
What to Serve with Zuppa Toscana
This soup is hearty enough for a whole meal, but you can always serve it as a side dish. Grilled cheese is king, but have you tried grilled pb&j? Your life will be forever changed with this warm and gooey sandwich.
Keep it light with this Southern cucumber tomato salad that feels perfectly Italian. It’s ready in just 5 minutes and only gets better in the fridge!
More Comforting Recipes
- No-Roux Macaroni and Cheese
- Split Pea Soup with Ham
- Chicken and Dumplings
- Red Beans and Rice
- Meatball Soup
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- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 8 slices of bacon thin, diced
- 3/4 cup of diced onion about half of a large onion
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup half and half
- 6 cups potato slices
- 6 cups kale leaves ribs removed and torn into bite-size pieces
- Crumble the Italian sausage in a soup pot and cook over medium-high heat until cooked completely an remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the diced bacon to the pan and cook until brown and remove from the skillet and set aside with the Italian sausage.
- Reserve about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan and discard the rest.
- Add the onions and garlic to the remaining grease in the pan and cook until slightly wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the Italian sausage, bacon, and chicken broth to the pan and bring it to a simmer.
- Once the broth is simmering, add the potatoes and continue to simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. This will take 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of your potatoes.
- Add the kale and simmer until the kale is bright green and softened.
- Add the half and half and simmer until the soup is hot.
- Remove from the heat and serve.
Italian sausage links can be pre-cooked in the oven or in a skillet, allowed to cool and sliced.
Do not overcook the garlic. Burnt garlic will make the entire pot of soup bitter.
Heavy cream can be used instead of half & half, just be sure not to boil the soup after adding it. It could curdle.
I use russet potatoes with the skins on. Waxy potatoes such as red or yellow can also be used. If you want to keep the skin on, make sure to scrub them well to remove all the dirt.
Kale can be substituted with escarole.