This copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana soup is so hearty and comforting. Zuppa Toscana is packed with kale and potatoes and topped off with a creamy broth. I’ve given this recipe a healthy makeover so that it’s vegetarian and vegan friendly. Zuppa Toscana soup is sure to warm you up on chilly nights!
We’ve finally gotten the soup weather I’ve been longing for. I’ve got my chunky sweater on and soup on the stove. It feels like the holidays are upon us. I make a cozy pot of soup at least once a week and always love trying new ones. I love soup not only because it’s so warming on cold days, but it’s an easy one-pot meal that’s easy to make healthy and inexpensively.
One soup the Internet has been going crazy over lately is Zuppa Toscana. Zuppa Toscana translates to “Tuscan Soup” in Italian. I don’t think Zuppa Toscana is actually an authentic Tuscan recipe, however. Zuppa Toscana was created by Olive Garden and apparently has a huge fan base. I had to see what all the fuss was about so I checked out Olive Garden’s ingredients and recreated a healthier version at home.
The bulk of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana is potatoes and kale. Potatoes and kale are two of my favorite winter ingredients so I was sold. The next ingredients however were a little more iffy. Zuppa Toscana traditionally gets its bold flavors from bacon and Italian sausage, and its creaminess from heavy cream. Those ingredients were easy to make plant based. Canned coconut milk is a great substitute for heavy cream and you can’t taste any hint of coconut. I’ve tried this soup with full fat coconut milk and lite, and both worked just fine. Though I’m not a big fan of faux meats, there is an Italian sausage made by Field Roast that I really love and often add to my veggie lasagnas. Just keep in mind they are not gluten free if you’re sensitive to gluten.
Though I wrote this recipe as a true copycat for Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana, I wanted to share another way to make it that’s completely sausage-free. The next night I made this vegetarian and vegan Zuppa Toscana again, but replaced the veggie sausage with chickpeas. Yes, sometimes while I’m working on a recipe we eat versions of the same dish several nights in a row. I’m not sure which version I will make again first, but I’m leaning toward the chickpea Zuppa Toscana. The chickpeas create a cleaner flavor and texture, in my opinion, while the Italian sausage imparts more flavor. If using chickpeas instead of sausage the only change you’ll need to make is to add more seasoning to the soup itself. Double the Italian seasoning and garlic, and add more salt and pepper.
Zuppa Toscana is incredibly quick and easy to make. Some people make it in the slow cooker, but it’s so fast to make on the stove, I don’t see any reason to slow cook it. Top it off with some Parmesan or nutritional yeast (a great source of vitamin B-12 with a cheesy flavor) and dig in. Zuppa Toscana soup is also budget-friendly. I was able to make this one-pot dinner for my family for about $10 when I made the chickpea version! Who says eating well has to be expensive?
Don’t miss the short Zuppa Toscana video tutorial!
This Zuppa Toscana soup was inspired by Olive Garden’s famous recipe and given a healthier update. This hearty soup is easy to make and loaded with kale and potatoes.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 7 baby yellow potatoes or 3 Russet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 32 oz. vegetable stock
- 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and torn into pieces
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 vegan Italian sausages (I use Field Roast) or 1 can chickpeas
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart brand) or nutritional yeast
- Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Saute until softened. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes and saute another minute, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the potatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- While the potatoes cook, brown the sausages, if using. Cut the sausages into bite sized pieces and saute in the remaining tablespoon of oil in a frying pan until browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Once the potatoes are tender, add the kale to the pot and stir in until wilted. It will look like a lot of kale at first but really cooks down. Stir in the coconut milk and whisk in the flour until there are no clumps. Add the sausages to the soup, or drain the chickpeas and add them. Simmer all the ingredients together just until they are all warmed through. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Serve right away and sprinkle with Parmesan or nutritional yeast.
If using chickpeas rather than the Italian sausage, you will need to increase the seasonings to make up for the flavor in the sausage. I doubled the Italian seasoning, added another clove of garlic, and increased the salt and pepper to taste.