How to Make Copycat Zuppa Toscana at Home

You can make a copycat Zuppa Toscana that's even better than the Olive Garden recipe. And it's ready in 30 minutes!

Who doesn’t love a good copycat recipe? It’s a great way to bring the restaurant to you when eating out isn’t an option, or you feel like staying home. Like our copycat Olive Garden Minestrone soup, you don’t need a fancy commercial kitchen to make this copycat Zuppa Toscana. Just toss the ingredients in a pot, and in about 30 minutes you’ll have a delicious, creamy, homemade version of this iconic Olive Garden recipe. That’s faster than going out to eat!

You might even have time to whip up a batch of copycat Olive Garden breadsticks!

What Is Zuppa Toscana?

Zuppa Toscana is a vegetable and bean soup made with kale, zucchini, cannellini beans, potatoes and tomatoes. Historically, most people in the Tuscan countryside would have used affordable seasonal vegetables and beans to make Zuppa Toscana. Then, the leftovers were often used to make ribollita (aka Italian bread soup).

How to Make Zuppa Toscana

This Tuscan-inspired soup comes to us from Michelle Babbie in New York.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound ground mild Italian pork sausage
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups sliced fresh kale
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Crumbled cooked bacon

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have heavy cream on hand, try these heavy cream substitutes.

Directions

Step 1: Brown sausage

In a large stockpot, brown the Italian sausage over medium heat for 4-6 minutes or until no longer pink. As the sausage cooks, break it up into crumbles. When the sausage is brown, remove it from the pot to a towel-lined plate to drain. Leave about 1 tablespoon of fat in the stockpot.

Step 2: Saute onions

browning sausage and sauted onions in the bottom of a large soup potTMB studio

Add the finely chopped onion to the same pot with the reserved fat and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Return the sausage to the pot.

Step 3: Add seasonings, potatoes and kale

Next, add the chicken bouillon granules, garlic powder, pepper, cubed red potatoes and fresh kale. Stir to combine.

Editor’s Tip: Here’s a substitute for chicken bouillon if you run out!

Step 4: Stir in milk and cream

adding milk to other ingredients to a large stock pot for soupTMB studio

Slowly pour in the milk and heavy cream, and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let the soup simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Step 5: Thicken with cornstarch

adding corn starch to pot of Zuppa ToscanaTMB studio

While the soup simmers, whisk 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water until smooth. Once the potatoes are tender, stir the cornstarch mixture (“slurry”) into the soup. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the soup thickens. Serve immediately, topped with crumbled bacon.

Tips for Making Copycat Zuppa Toscana

How to store copycat Zuppa Toscana

Store leftover Zuppa Toscana in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. This soup can be frozen for up to 6 months and reheated later for a great, quick meal. If you’re concerned about the soup separating since it’s cream-based, follow these simple steps for best results:

Let cool completely

To help prevent separation in the freezer, let the soup cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. This tip is also important from a food safety standpoint, since it helps minimize the growth of foodborne bacteria.

Thaw slowly

Cream soups tend to separate less when they’re thawed slowly. Transfer the frozen soup from the freezer to your fridge 24-48 hours before you want to eat it.

Reheat low and slow

Cream soups are best reheated low and slow. Using a double boiler, for example, gently reheats the soup and allows you to continuously stir the soup as it warms. The goal of reheating a cream soup is to try and emulsify all the ingredients that may have separated when the soup was frozen. Find more freezer-friendly soups to try.

How to make Zuppa Toscana thicker

If you prefer a thicker soup, either reduce the amount of milk or increase the amount of cornstarch.

  • To adjust the dairy, reduce the milk to 2 cups and increase the heavy cream to 2 cups. Note that this will also increase the richness and fat content of the soup.
  • To adjust the cornstarch, increase the amount to 4 tablespoons total (equivalent to 1/4 cup). Whisk the cornstarch into 1/4 cup of water to make a paste and add gradually to the soup until the desired thickness is achieved.

Copycat Zuppa Toscana FAQs

finished bowl of Zuppa ToscanaTMB studio

Is Zuppa Toscana healthy?

Zuppa Toscana is a creamy, comforting soup that’s good for the soul…but may not be the best choice if you’re watching what you eat. Made with Italian sausage, bacon and heavy cream, this soup is relatively high in fat, cholesterol and calories. But it’s possible to adapt this recipe to make a healthy Zuppa Toscana.

  • Replace the Italian sausage with Italian ground chicken or turkey sausage.
  • Omit the crumbled bacon or opt for crumbled turkey bacon instead.
  • Reduce the amount of heavy cream by opting for additional low-fat milk instead. (If you reduce the heavy cream, we suggest upping the cornstarch as suggested above to thicken the soup.)

Is Zuppa Toscana spicy?

No, Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana is not spicy. However, this copycat recipe can be made spicy by choosing a spicy Italian sausage rather than mild. For an extra kick, add up to 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the sausage as it cooks.

What to Serve with Zuppa Toscana

We love to serve this cozy soup with a loaf of crusty Italian bread or our Simple Italian Salad.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.