Soup Dupe: This Zuppa Toscana Recipe Outdoes the Popular Olive Garden Menu Item

BY Laura Rege, TIMEJanuary 29, 2022 PRINT

If you crave Olive Garden’s zuppa Toscana, you need to make this recipe. It hits the spot in just the same way, and it might even be better because you have a big ol’ pot to yourself. Plus, coming in at just 10 ingredients, it’s an easy copycat recipe that isn’t a labor of love.

Creamy with just a touch of heat and spice from hot Italian sausage, this potato- and kale-studded soup is rich and satisfying. Make a big batch to stock up your freezer, serve it to family, or enjoy leftovers throughout the week. Just don’t forget to serve it with breadsticks.

How to Make It Better Than Olive Garden

Amp up the flavor! A dash of white wine vinegar perks up the soup by cutting through the creaminess without taking away from it. We also like to add in more pepper flakes and fresh herbs.

Is Zuppa Toscana Spicy?

This zuppa Toscana recipe is ever-so-slightly spicy from the Italian sausage and crushed red pepper flakes, but can easily be prepared for the spice-averse—just use sweet Italian sausage in place of hot and skip the red pepper flakes. On the other hand, feel free to amp it up with more pepper flakes for the spice-lovers.

Zuppa Toscana

Serves 6

  • 4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 pound uncooked spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 3 medium)
  • 1 (32-ounce) carton (4 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bunch curly leaf kale (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop the bacon. Finely chop the onion (about 1 cup) and mince the garlic cloves. Remove and discard casings from the spicy Italian sausage if needed.

Place the bacon in a large pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off and discard the bacon fat in the pot.

Return the pot to medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and red pepper flakes, and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly golden, about 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the russet potatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds.

Add the chicken broth, water, and potatoes to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are just tender, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, strip the leaves from the stems of the curly kale. Discard the stems and tear the leaves into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 packed cups).

Add the kale to the soup and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream, white wine vinegar, kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Serve topped with the bacon.

Recipe Notes

For less heat, use sweet rather than spicy Italian sausage. For more heat, double the amount of red pepper flakes.

Leftover soup can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to five days, or frozen for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Laura Rege is a contributor to, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to
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