Love the Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana? It's so simple to recreate it at home. This creamy sausage, bacon, potato, and kale soup is total comfort food!
Try my Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli, Easy Chicken Gnocchi Soup, or Minestrone Soup Recipe for more restaurant-quality dishes you can replicate in your kitchen.
Sausage, Bacon, Potato, and Kale Soup
If you haven't tried Zuppa Toscana yet, it's about time you do! It's immensely popular for a reason. It's simple to make even for new cooks, very satisfying, and feels like a cozy yet impressive treat that you could easily serve for company.
Ours has everyday fresh and inexpensive ingredients, and you can control exactly what's going into this robust soup that's inspired by the Olive Garden favorite. Our kitchen may be biased, but we think you might agree this copycat recipe is way better than the original.
What is Zuppa Toscana?
- "Zuppa Toscana" literally means "Tuscan soup", but from an American point of view, it commonly refers to the soup found at the Olive Garden restaurant with sausage, kale, and bacon. It's a fairly brothy (not too thick) soup that's definitely not authentic Italian, but it sure is tasty.
Ingredients you'll need
- Bacon - I chose thick cut
- Sausage - Johnsonville mild Italian is my go-to variety for this soup. Ground sausage meat is good too.
- Onion and garlic - our aromatic base. I like sweet Vidalia onions, and using this garlic press makes it effortless to mince the garlic.
- Broth and water - I prefer using chicken broth, but beef broth works as well
- Potatoes - we like using red potatoes with their skins on
- Italian seasoning - fragrant dried herbs like rosemary and thyme are found in this tasty blend that's all in a single jar
- Heavy cream - it's what makes that broth irresistibly creamy!
- Kale - another signature component for a burst of freshness
What's the best kind of potatoes to use?
- I typically use red, but Russet potatoes, Yukon Gold, or even other varieties will work just fine. I don't peel them, but you definitely can.
- This soup is pretty forgiving on the quantity of potatoes. I typically use four medium-to-large red potatoes, which I know is really subjective. I'd aim for around 1.5 pounds of potatoes if you're looking for a specific weight.
How to make Zuppa Toscana
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Sauté the bacon in your soup pot or Dutch oven. Give it a few minutes head start prior to adding the sausage pieces. Cook until the bacon is crispy and the sausage is browned. Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients as it's cooking.
Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the chicken broth and water to the pot, followed by the potatoes and Italian seasoning. Bring the soup to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are done.
Stir in the cream and kale. Cook for another 5-10 minutes or so until the kale is nice and tender to your liking. Season with salt & pepper to taste!
Crockpot and Instant Pot methods
- Want to make it in your Instant Pot? Head on over to my Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana recipe.
- To make Zuppa Toscana in a slow cooker, do steps 1-4 (in the recipe card below) in a skillet, and then transfer to your Crockpot. Add in remaining ingredients except for the cream, kale, and salt & pepper. Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 on low, then add in the cream and kale about 20-30 minutes prior to serving. Season with salt & pepper as desired.
Substitutions and variations
- A lot of people like a spicy version, so feel free to use hot Italian sausage if you want a kick, or try 1/4 tsp or more of crushed red pepper flakes for a gentle heat.
- Substituting spinach instead of the kale works fine, but it'll wilt much faster, so make sure to watch it carefully.
- If you need to, replace the cream with half-and-half, but with recipes like this, I prefer to go all out. You can't beat real cream, in my opinion!
- Go ahead and grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top for even more luxuriousness.
What to serve with it
- I always pair this soup with a big ol' slice of Extra Cheesy Garlic Bread, but crusty bread, a dinner roll, or breadsticks works great too.
- My go-to salad is always dressed up with this homemade Olive Garden Salad Dressing for OG night at home!
Leftovers and storage
- This soup makes great leftovers. It'll keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- If you freeze the soup, it can separate a bit when reheating, though, so reheat on a low temperature and stir it well. Alternatively, if you're planning for a lot of leftovers, just add in the cream when thawing and reheating.
More restaurant-worthy recipes
Have you tried Zuppa Toscana? Leave a comment below. Questions? Let me know! You can also tag me on Instagram #saltandlavender with your beautiful creations.
Easy Zuppa Toscana
- 5 strips of bacon (thick cut works best)
- 1 pound Italian sausage see note
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups chicken broth (beef works too)
- 4 cups water
- 4 large red potatoes diced (leave skins on)
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1 small bunch of kale torn into bite-size pieces (remove stems)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Using kitchen shears (or a knife), cut the bacon into small pieces and add it to a pot. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat to give the bacon a bit of a head start before adding in the sausage.
- Add the sausage meat to the pot.
- Allow the sausage and bacon to get nicely browned and crispy (this can take 15+ minutes). Stir occasionally. There may be quite a lot of fat in the pot (especially if you're using thick cut bacon), so you may want to spoon some out and discard it, but be sure to leave a few tablespoons in there as it adds flavor.
- Stir in the onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, water, potatoes, and Italian seasoning to the pot.
- Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat to simmer.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Add in the cream and kale, and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the kale is soft and wilted. Season with salt & pepper as needed.
- To save prep time, I chop the onion and potatoes while the bacon and sausage cook.
- For the sausage, either use ground sausage meat or a pack of Italian sausages (I use a 5-pack of Johnsonville mild Italian sausages that's 500g/17.6 oz. here in Canada) and take the meat out of the casings. A little more than a pound is totally fine!
- Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes would work if you don't want to use red potatoes. Aim for approx. 1.5 pounds of potatoes.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This post was originally published on September 23, 2015. I've updated it with new photos, text, and a better written recipe!
Could you please amend your recipe to include the weight of the potatoes. I have new red potatoes, not large on hand and wanted to use these. I also have good size yukon gold. But I have no idea how many pounds or ounces of potatoes to use.
Hi! It says in two places (the body of the blog post and in the notes section of the recipe card) what weight of potatoes you can use. I don't put the weight right in the ingredients section as you really don't need to be exact in this recipe and I do specify in the notes for those who are looking for a particular weight. 🙂
What is the serving size?
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Hi! It's 1/6 of the recipe as written. It's calculated automatically from a database of ingredients. You'd have to weigh your own ingredients and/or consult a nutritionist for information beyond that. Enjoy!
Paula S says
This was amazing and so simple! My husband, who doesn’t like spicy went back for more…and then some!
So glad it was a hit! Did you use spicy sausage?
a grown man thins zuppa toscana is too spicy? lol
Really yummy! I tweaked it a bit by adding chopped carrots and celery! It was so hearty and delicious!
So happy you enjoyed it, Natalie! Thanks for your review!
I love this recipe. I've used it a bunch of times. Recently I've used chicken sausage and it's just as yummy!
Fantastic!! Thanks for your review. XO
I never leave reviews on recipes… but this one has become a family favorite. My adult children make it, after having it at my house. Neighbors make it also after being “gifted” a dinner. It was also requested at a family dinner of 25 people!! And here I am at 2 am making this recipe to deliver to friends. Thank you for a great addition to our family dinners!! I use Bob Evans sausage… simply because I usually have it. Other than that, no changes!!! Love it and so does my family and friends
That's fantastic!! I'm so happy it's become a favorite. Really appreciate you passing it on and leaving me a review! 🙂 XO
I made this today but substituted whole milk for cream it turned out great.
Landria Tyler says
I recently started cooking for my father in law who was diagnosed with dementia. I have alot of sausage on hand, and tried this recipe. We all loved it! My FIL just asked me to cook it again. That is a huge compliment! Trust me! Thanks for the recipe!
Aww that's so nice to hear. Thanks for letting me know... I am glad he enjoyed it. And that's so good of you to cook for him! XO
Mick S says
Yum! So delicious!! I tweaked it a bit - used hot turkey Italian sausage, unsweetened coconut milk (can't have dairy), and didn't have kale on hand so I substituted with spinach. Next time, I'm going to add more potatoes and add a bit of potato flakes to thicken it. Also, I love how easy this is to make!
So glad it worked out with the tweaks, Mick!
Cindy C. says
Made this last night (4/25/21), and it was AMAZING!!!! Thank you for the recipe!
Fantastic!! I'm so pleased you loved it, Cindy! 🙂
Teisha Bowman says
Favorite soup recipe. My husband loves it and that’s really all that matters! I use the spicy sausage and it adds a really great flavor to go along with the texture of the kale.
Making soup for Easter Sunday meal. 😋
Thank you for the recipe it’s amazing!
Fantastic!! You're very welcome!!
Cecilia Gonzalez says
I made this for lunch. Everyone even my picky boys loved it! Very flavorful and filling. I used country breakfast sausage because no one liked so I had to get rid of it somewhere. Worked out perfectly. Thanks for recipe.
Fantastic!! That's what I like to hear. So glad the boys liked it too! You're very welcome, Cecilia! 😀
They don't add the kale until shortly before serving...kale absorbs grease and oils. The sausage and bacon have plenty and it can give the kale a greasy feel...also the crisp kale gives some variety to the tenderness of the potatoes. Also you don't have red pepper in your recipe...it is placed on the sausage print while it's cooking and stirred in as it is cooked...as for potatoes its russets at the olive garden
I just finished making this soup and it is INCREDIBLE. I used extra bacon and I should have skimmed some grease out, but it doesn’t even matter- I’m in heaven.
Absolutely delicious. I did drain some of the grease, used evaporated milk instead, Yukon gold potatoes, added potato flakes to thicken up more and it tasted fabulous. Full credit for this recipe. It’s one of my keepers. Thanks.
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! 🙂
Christine G says
Love love love this! So yummy. I would add that I followed as closely as possibly (added more kale) and it made 11 cups total. Only mention this for anyone one tracking portions.
Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you so much!!