Who doesn’t love a good copycat recipe? It’s a smart way to bring the restaurant 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).
Zuppa Toscana Ingredients
- Ground mild Italian pork sausage
- Chicken bouillon granules
- Garlic powder
- Red potatoes
- Fresh kale
- 2% milk
- Heavy whipping cream
- Cooked bacon
Step 1: Brown the sausage
In a large stockpot, brown the Italian sausage over medium heat for 4 to 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
Add the finely chopped onion to the same pot with the reserved fat and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 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.
Step 4: Stir in milk and cream
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 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have heavy cream on hand, try these heavy cream substitutes.
Step 5: Thicken with cornstarch
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 to 2 minutes or until the soup thickens. Serve immediately, topped with crumbled bacon.
Zuppa Toscana Variations
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.
How to Store Zuppa Toscana
Store leftover Zuppa Toscana in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. This soup can be frozen for up to 6 months and reheated later for a quick, filling 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 food-borne 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 to 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.
Zuppa Toscana Tips
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 healthier 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.