Classic zuppa toscana soup, in slow cooker form! It tastes WAY better than the restaurant version, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Spicy crumbled sausage, silky potatoes, and an ultra creamy broth… it’s the perfect copycat soup!
Best Copycat Zuppa Toscana Recipe
My husband’s favorite soup is Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana, so naturally I wanted to find a way to have it at home (for way less money)! This soup has all the great flavors of the Olive Garden soup, but making at home is much more convenient, and I think it tastes way better! If you’ve never had this soup… it’s a creamy soup with tender potatoes, spicy Italian sausage, crispy bacon, and healthy kale.
WHAT’S IN ZUPPA TOSCANA SOUP?
First, I want to clear something up. Even though zuppa toscana soup translates to Tuscan soup, it’s not a traditionally Tuscan soup. Olive Garden named this soup and made it incredibly popular all across the United States!
Zuppa toscana soup is made from crumbled Italian sausage, bacon, potatoes, kale, chicken broth and cream. The combination is soul-warming and absolutely mouthwatering. What I love most about this copycat soup is that you don’t need a lot of ingredients to get such a rich flavor!
HOW TO MAKE ZUPPA TOSCANA SOUP:
There are three main ways to make this delicious copycat soup; stovetop, slow cooker, and pressure cooker (instant pot). I’ll have directions for all three down in the recipe card, but let’s focus on the stovetop version for this how-to.
- Brown the Italian sausage. I like to use spicy sausage links and remove the casing, but you can also use bulk Italian sausage if you prefer. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage as you cook it, then drain it very well, getting as much grease off of it as you can. Remove to a plate.
- Fry the bacon right in the residual grease from the sausage. This adds plenty of flavor! Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to the plate with the sausage.
- Cook the onion and garlic in the bacon grease. Again, boosting the flavor here! If you have a ton of grease after cooking the bacon, drain off all but about 1 1/2 Tbsp.
- Add the flour to the cooked onion and garlic, stirring to mix it all in. This is going to thicken your soup slowly, as it cooks.
- Add liquid and potatoes. I like to use chicken bone broth or chicken stock, but you can use broth if you prefer. When you add the liquid, make sure to stir well, so the flour is mixed in with the liquid and doesn’t clump up.
- Boil potatoes until tender. Don’t cook them TOO much, you want them tender when pierced with a fork, but not mushy.
- Stir in cooked sausage and bacon. This keeps the meats nice and crispy.
- Add cream and kale. Stir well and let the kale wilt.
CAN THIS SOUP BE FROZEN OR REHEATED?
Reheated, yes. It makes for amazing leftovers the next day! Frozen, I’m not entirely sure. Soups with dairy have a propensity for separating when frozen. So if you want to freeze this soup, I would freeze it before adding the cream and kale. Just add those as you’re reheating the soup.
HOW TO MAKE ZUPPA TOSCANA THICKER?
This soup is traditionally pretty brothy, but if you prefer a thicker soup, it’s really easy to thicken it. You can either mash some of the potatoes in the soup, or mix 1 1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch with 2-3 Tbsp of additional heavy cream, and stir it in when you add the cream. Stir occasionally for the next 5-7 minutes and it’ll thicken up.
PRO TIPS FOR MAKING THIS COPYCAT ZUPPA TOSCANA RECIPE:
- Control the heat level by using either mild or spicy Italian sausage. I prefer the spicy variety with the creamy soup, but it’s your soup!
- No patience for peeling and chopping potatoes? In a pinch, I like to keep a bag of refrigerated diced potatoes on hand. My grocery store carries them next to the eggs (for some reason lol).
- Too much grease in your soup? It happens, especially with the Italian sausage, but you can fix it if it bothers you. Let the soup cool for 5-10 minutes, then gently skim off the grease layer.
- Want to try this soup but following a low-carb way of eating? Swap out the potatoes for chopped cauliflower florets!
GREAT RECIPES TO SERVE ALONGSIDE THIS SOUP RECIPE:
- No-Knead Artisan Bread
- Cheesy Garlic Bread
- Homemade Caesar Salad
- Caprese Garlic Chicken
- Chicken Marsala
- Stuffed Italian Flank Steaks
SHOP THE RECIPE:
- Dutch Oven – My secret weapon in the kitchen.. I use it for everything from soups to frying!
- Instant Pot – In case you don’t have one, this is the model I have and love.
- Hamilton Beach 7qt Programmable Slow Cooker – I received this as a gift and couldn’t be happier… works like a dream, switches to warm once the time is up, and is big enough to cook just about anything!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Simply Potatoes. All opinions are 100% mine.
Recipe originally published in 2015, recently updated with new photos and additional content.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1 lb ground spicy Italian sausage (mild can be substituted)
- 8 slices bacon, diced (divided)
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp flour (cornstarch can be substituted)
- 32 oz chicken stock
- 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 bunch kale (a couple of handfuls) de-stemmed and torn into bite sized pieces
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes. optional
- Heat a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot over MED-HIGH heat. Add a small drizzle of oil, then brown sausage, crumbling as it cooks. Drain well, then remove to a plate.
- Fry bacon is residual sausage grease until crisp, then remove to plate with the sausage. Drain all but 1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp of bacon grease.
- Add onion to pot and cook 5 minutes, adding garlic the last minute.
- Sprinkle flour over onion and garlic in pot, then stir to combine. Pour in chicken stock, stirring as you pour. Add in potatoes and bring to a boil.
- Gently boil about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Add in cooked sausage, most of the bacon, heavy cream and kale. Stir and cook 5-10 minutes until kale is wilted.
- Taste and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes if desired. Top with remaining bacon and enjoy!
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- Heat large skillet over medium high heat and brown sausage. Drain.
- Fry bacon and set aside to a plate.
- Add onion and minced garlic and cook slightly.
- Add sausage, onion and garlic to the bottom of slow cooker.
- Add peeled potatoes, cover with chicken stock and water (if necessary) to completely cover potatoes and sausage.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 (potatoes should be soft)
- Before serving, whisk together heavy cream and cornstarch or flour until well mixed. Pour into slow cooker, add kale and stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes until soup has thickened slightly.
- Taste, season according to your tastes, top with bacon, and serve.
INSTANT POT DIRECTIONS
- Set a 6-qt instant pot to the saute setting. Add a drizzle of olive oil and Italian sausage. Cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess grease.
- Add bacon and cook until crispy, remove with slotted spoon to a plate.
- Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become soft, about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in cooked sausage, chicken broth and potatoes.
- Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 5 minutes. When finished cooking, do a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then a controlled quick release.
- When the pin drops, open the lid.
- Whisk together flour/cornstarch and heavy cream, then add to pot, along with kale. Stir often and let heat through.
- Taste and season as desired. Top with bacon and serve.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.