This Zuppa Toscana Recipe is NOT an Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Copycat, instead it is a BETTER than Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipe loaded with Italian sausage, potatoes, bacon, cannellini beans, carrots, corn, and kale/spinach! With one bite, I think you’ll agree!
You will love this better-than-Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana
If you love Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana, I promise you will love my version too! My Zuppa Toscana recipe has all the creamy goodness of Olive Garden’s version but with more veggies like classic Zuppa Toscana to create this truly better than Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana that you can make in ONE POT in your own home while wearing your slippers. This Zuppa Toscana recipe is mega creamy, bursting with veggies and exploding with flavor. This is one hearty bowl of soup that you will never want to put down!
What is Zuppa Toscana?
If you aren’t familiar with Zuppa Toscana, which literally means, “soup in the style of Tuscany,” it is a Tuscan soup popularized in America by Olive Garden. Classic Zuppa Toscana, however is much heartier, often consisting of not only Italian Sausage, potatoes and kale (like the Olive Garden version) but onions, celery, carrots, cannellini beans, zucchini and powdered chili.
Zuppa Soup ingredients
- Italian sausage: Use hot/spicy Italian Sausage – it will not make your recipe spicy, just flavorful. Italian sausage comes seasoned with Italian seasonings, primarily fennel. Fennel is crucial for authentic Italian flavor so if you swap the sausage for beef or turkey, make sure you add some Italian seasonings, fennel and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Bacon: Use thick cut bacon so it doesn’t get lost in the soup.
- Aromatics: Chopped yellow onion and 4-6 garlic cloves or substitute with 2 teaspoons onion powder and 1 teaspoon garlic powder – but the real stuff is so much better!
- Carrots and celery: You’ll need about 1 ½ cups each chopped carrots and celery, about 3 of each.
- Potatoes: Use 3 medium Russet potatoes chopped into bite size cubes. Don’t cube the potatoes too large or they’ll take longer to cook.
- Cannellini beans: These canned beans are large, creamy-white Italian beans with a mild, nutty flavor and a tender yet slightly starchy texture. Rinse and drain before using.
- Corn: Use one 15 ounce can sweet corn rinsed and drained. You may use frozen corn but I don’t think its texture holds as well.
- Cream-style corn: This is a secret ingredient must to make this soup extra creamy.
- Spinach: It will seem like a lot of spinach, but will cook down significantly in the soup.
- Flour: This helps thicken the Zuppa Toscana by creating a roux. You may substitute with gluten free all-purpose flour.
- Cornstarch: This also helps thicken the soup which allows us to use lower calorie half and half as opposed to heavy cream.
- Seasonings: Dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, salt, pepper season our soup to perfection.
- Chicken Broth: Use low sodium otherwise your Zuppa Toscana will be too salty. Using low sodium broth also allows us to use chicken bouillon which ramps up the flavor.
- Chicken bouillon: Use bouillon powder, crushed bouillon cubes or base (like Zoup! or Better Than Bouillon). Add directly to the soup without dissolving in liquid first.
- Milk and half and half: A combination of both adds creaminess to the soup without making it too rich.
How to make Zuppa Toscana Soup
- To make this Zuppa Toscana, we start with by cooking our bacon in the same pot we’re going to cook the rest of our soup. We use the leftover bacon grease to saute and infuse our mirepoix with even more flavor.
Mirepoix (pronounced “meer-pwah”), is simply a fancy French term for the combination of diced carrots, onions and celery sautéed in butter/olive oil and in this case, bacon fat – mmmm. Every chef will tell you that every great soup or stew should begin with a mirepoix. And I heartily agree. It adds richness and depth of flavor that can’t be achieved any other way. Chopping the celery, onions and carrots is probably the most time consuming part of this whole Zuppa Toscana recipe, but it’s so worth it. You can chop all your veggies in advance or you can even buy mirepoix by the jar and keep it in your refrigerator (I have a few friends with young children that swear by this shortcut)!
2. Next, we cook our sausage and garlic then sprinkle in our flour and cook for couple minutes to get rid of the raw flour smell then add our potatoes, creamy cannellini beans, creamed corn (also helps thicken the soup while adding flavor), and sweet corn.
3. Next, we whisk in our chicken broth. Now, a trick I use often in soups and sauces is to whisk some cornstarch into some milk before adding it to the soup. This makes the milk behave like heavy cream and helps thicken the soup. Finally, add our blend of handpicked herbs and spices…
4. Simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes) and you can barely resist the aroma escaping your soup pot.
5. Stir in half and half, spinach or kale and half of your chopped bacon.
6. Garnish individual bowls with remaining bacon and as much freshly grated Parmesan you heart desires.
Zuppa Toscana Recipe tips
- Lean Ground Beef. Italian Sausage has wonderful flavor but you can substitute it with lean ground beef with a dash of Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes
- Buy/prechop Mirepoix. Chopping the celery, onions and carrots is probably the most time consuming part of this whole Zuppa Toscana recipe, but it’s so worth it. You can chop all your veggies in advance or you can even buy mirepoix by the jar and keep it in your refrigerator (I have a few friends with young children that swear by this shortcut)!
- Potatoes. You can peel and chop your potatoes in advance and them keep them refrigerated submerged in water so they don’t discolor.
How to store Zuppa Toscana Olive Garden soup
Let the Zuppa Toscana cool to room temperature, cover and store in your Dutch oven or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Can I Freeze Zuppa Toscana Soup?
No, I don’t recommend freezing Zuppa Toscana due to the creamy nature of the soup and the potatoes. The potatoes will not freeze well and turn into an unpleasant grainy, disintegrating, mushy texture.
How to serve Zuppa Toscana
Serve Zuppa Toscana Soup with my family favorite Ugly Duckling Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks for the ultimate Better than Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana experience! Cheesy Pesto Pull Apart Bread or Spinach Dip French Bread would also be fabulous. This creamy soup would also be delicious with a big green salad, Cucumber, Tomato Salad or Wedge Salad.
Better than Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana FAQs
Zuppa Toscana is naturally loaded with nutritious veggies and this version uses flour, cornstarch and half and half instead of heavy cream. Still, if you would like to make this Zuppa Toscana recipe healthier, then there are a few substitutions you can make:
– Bacon Substitute. Replace bacon with turkey bacon.
– Italian Sausage substitute. Substitute the pork Italian Sausage with ground chicken or lean ground turkey with beef bouillon, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.
– Half and Half Substitute. Increase the flour to ½ cup the cornstarch to ¼ cup and replace the half and half with milk.
– More Veggies. Decrease the amount of potatoes and increase the quantity of other vegetables.
In Italian, the word “zuppa” translates to “soup.” It’s a term often used to refer to a variety of Italian soups, typically characterized by their heartiness and inclusion of various ingredients like vegetables, beans, pasta, or rice.
Zuppa Toscana is pronounced “zoo-pah tos-kah-nah.” The “z” in “zuppa” is pronounced like the English “z” sound, and the “c” in “Toscana” is pronounced as “ch” like in “chair.” The stress is usually on the second syllable of “Toscana,” so it’s “toh-skah-nah.”
Olive Garden is known for its soup, salad, and breadstick combination. The three soups that are typically available at Olive Garden as part of their soup, salad, and breadsticks offering are:
Zuppa Toscana: A hearty soup featuring Italian sausage, kale, and potatoes in a creamy broth with a touch of spice.
Pasta e Fagioli: This soup combines pasta, beans, and ground beef in a savory tomato-based broth, often flavored with Italian seasonings.
Minestrone: A classic Italian vegetable soup with a tomato-based broth, containing various vegetables, beans, and sometimes pasta or rice.
See you in my slippers.
Looking for more One Pot Soup Recipes?
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Lasagna Soup
- Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup
- Chicken Fajita and Rice Soup
- Cheesy Taco Soup
- Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder
You might also like these Italian soups:
- White Chicken Lasagna Soup
- Italian Beef and Vegetable Soup
- Creamy Basil Parmesan Italian Soup
- Creamy White Bean, Ham Tortellini Soup
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- 6 slices bacon uncooked
- 1 pound bulk/ground spicy Italian sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped (approx. 1 ½ cups)
- 3 stalks celery, chopped (approx. 1 ½ cups)
- 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 1/2 pounds/3 medium russet potatoes chopped into bite size cubes
- 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans rinsed and rained
- 1 15 oz. can can sweet corn rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz. can creamed corn
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 3 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
- 1 tsp EACH dried parsley, salt
- 1/2 tsp EACH dried basil, dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp EACH dried thyme, pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste (optional if you like heat)
- 2-3 cups half and half
- 4 cups loosely packed fresh chopped spinach or kale
- remaining bacon in directions
- fresh parsley
- Parmesan cheese
- Cook bacon in Dutch oven/large stock pot until crispy; remove from pot. Drain all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease or add additional olive oil to equal about 2 tablespoons.
- Add onions, carrots and celery and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Increase heat to medium high and add sausage and garlic and cook, while crumbling meat, until meat is browned, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and cook, while stirring, an additional 2 minutes.
- Turn heat to low and stir in potatoes, cannellini beans, creamed corn and sweet corn. Add chicken broth. Whisk cornstarch with milk (you can whisk with as little as 1 cup milk, just enough so it dissolves) and add to pot. Stir in Dijon, bay leaves and all seasonings.
- Increase heat to high, cover pot and bring to a boil. Remove lid and reduce heat to a gentle simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in half and half, adding additional broth or half and half if desired for a less “chunky” soup and warm through.
- Remove from heat and stir in spinach/kale and half of chopped bacon.
- Garnish individual servings with remaining bacon and Parmesan cheese if desired.
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