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Zuppa Toscana is a hearty and delicious soup made with Italian sausage, bacon, Tuscan kale and potatoes in a creamy, flavorful broth.

Zuppa Toscana

We originally planned to post a different recipe today, but after several requests for this Zuppa Toscana recipe, we moved this recipe up to today.

This past weekend, we brought a big batch of our Zuppa Toscana soup to sell at the concession stand during our daughter’s swim meet. The soup was a hit so my husband Jack passed out some business cards, and told some of the parents to be on the lookout for the recipe here on A Family Feast.


Zuppa Toscana

What is Zuppa Toscana?

Zuppa Toscana translates to ‘soup in the style of Tuscany’ and in Italy, Zuppa Toscana soup is actually made with different ingredients than our version today. Our recipe today is more along the lines of a copycat version of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana — with Italian sausage, bacon, Tuscan kale, and potatoes in a delicious and creamy broth.

If you search on line, you’ll find lots of copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipes, all very similar to each other but several parents at the swim meet told us our Zuppa Toscana is even better than Olive Garden! (I have to agree!)

Zuppa Toscana


Here are a few of Jack’s secrets to making a Better Than Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana:

  • Use a homemade chicken stock. The deep, rich flavors of a homemade chicken stock can’t be beat! While canned chicken stock is convenient, you really won’t achieve that ‘better than Olive Garden’ flavor using canned. Feel free to make the chicken stock ahead of time.
  • Our recipe uses a mix of both sweet and hot Italian sausage. While many other versions of this recipe add a gentle heat to this soup by adding a pinch red pepper flakes, we decided to add hot Italian sausage to the mix so every spoonful of soup had that spicy (but not too spicy) delicious flavor.
  • We added a few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce and Kitchen Bouquet* Browning and Seasoning Sauce at the end. Adding these extra, non-traditional seasonings to the soup is optional, but highly recommended to give the Zuppa Toscana a deep, savory flavor. Jack and I tasted this soup both before and after adding these extra seasonings, and no doubt about it the zuppa was so much better after adding them.

*Kitchen Bouquet is found at most supermarkets in the spice aisle. It’s a great all-purpose seasoning liquid with uses well beyond just making gravy. You can also find it online here.

Zuppa Toscana

Our Zuppa Toscana is a hearty, delicious soup that will warm your belly and thrill your tastebuds. Mangia!

You may enjoy these other Tuscan-inspired recipes:

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Zuppa Toscana

(Better Than Olive Garden) Zuppa Toscana

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour (plus 4 1/2 hours to cook the homemade stock
  • Total Time: 2 hours + time to cook the stock
  • Yield: 8 to 12 servings
  • Category: soup
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


2 quarts homemade chicken stock *see Notes below

4 slices thick cut bacon (we used cherrywood smoked)

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds Italian sweet sausage removed from casing *see Notes below

1 pound Italian hot sausage removed from casing *see Notes below

2 cups sweet onion, diced

2 tablespoons fresh garlic minced

¼ cup white wine

1 large or two medium heads of Tuscan kale stripped from stems and chopped (4 cups packed once chopped)

1 ½ pounds yellow potatoes, skinned and diced (hold the diced potatoes in a bowl of cold water until you need them)

2 cups heavy cream *see Notes below

Few shakes Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning Sauce 

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt, only if needed


Prepare the chicken stock and set aside.

In a medium saute pan, cook bacon until crisp and remove. Crumble and chop bacon into rice-sized pieces. Set aside.

Remove all but two tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan and heat to medium low. Add the butter to the bacon fat and once melted, add the flour to form a roux and cook for three minutes. Set this aside for now.

In a 6-quart soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high until shimmering and add the sausage meat, breaking up the meat into small pieces as you cook and brown.

Once browned, add the cooked bacon along with the onions and garlic and cook for three more minutes until the onions are tender.

Add the wine and cook to evaporate, about three minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a boil then add the kale.

Bring the heat back up and simmer five minutes then add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5-10 more minutes.

Add the cooked roux from earlier and with a wooden spoon, stir it in to slightly thicken the soup.

Lower heat to medium and add the cream, Worcestershire sauce, Kitchen Bouquet and the black pepper.

Taste and only add salt if needed.

Once the soup is at serving temperature (be careful not to overheat), ladle into bowls and enjoy.


The proportions of sweet and hot sausage used in this recipe are really up to you. We did two parts sweet and one part hot. But if you like less heat, add more sweet and less hot. Alternatively, if you like it hot, add more hot than sweet sausage.

Homemade chicken stock is almost a mandatory item here. This soup is intensely good and using canned chicken stock wouldn’t do it justice, however if you have to, you have to.

Heavy cream is one of the few dairy products that you can get really hot without it breaking. That said, don’t bring the soup to a boil after it is added.

If you use regular curly kale instead of Tuscan kale, it will need to cook longer before you add the potatoes. Test and once tender, add the potatoes and continue on. Tuscan Kale is also know as Dinosaur kale, Toscano kale, palm tree kale and Lacinato kale.

Keywords: Better than Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana



Zuppa Toscana

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  • Maryjo Baughman wrote:

    The soup was absolutely delicious! No hot sausage for us! Was skeptical about the kale but wished I had put more in. Very easy to prepare. Thank you for sharing!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Maryjo – glad you enjoyed the soup!

  • Parrish wrote:

    Family loved the soup! Had buttermilk cornbread with it. For me, there was too much cream and too much meat. And I held back on both. But overall wonderful recipe!!!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Parrish!

  • Erlinda Sanchez wrote:

    The soup was wonderful. The hot sausage add a.tangy spicy taste to the soup. I loved it. Thank you

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome Erlinda!

  • Nanette wrote:

    Just finished eating a huge hardy bowl of this amazing soup! So delicious! My husband said this has to be a new addition to our list of meals we make. I did change it a bit. I used about a half cup of cream and one and a half cups of milk. LOVE!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Nanette! So glad the recipe was a hit!

  • Beth Anderson wrote:

    Can you use red curly kale for this recipe? I went to purchase green curly kale, but the red curly kale looked better. Curious if I can use it for this recipe? Will it change the taste? Thanks, Beth

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Beth – Yes – you can use it. Just a quick note – our recipe called for Tuscan kale (which is more of a dark green, bumpy-looking kale) but you can use either the green or red curly kale as well. The curly kale you bought might take a little longer to cook to get tender so just keep that in mind as you make the recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

  • T BONE wrote:

    How on earth is this Tuscan? And not only is it not Tuscan, or Italian, Italians would not even entertain this and/or eat it

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for your feedback T BONE! I’m not sure if you read our post, but we do mention: “in Italy, Zuppa Toscana soup is actually made with different ingredients than our version today.” Since this is more of a copycat recipe of the soup served at Olive Garden, your question might be better directed to the folks at Olive Garden.

  • Janert Bradley wrote:

    Could I use Spinach instead of Kale? Recipe sounds awesome, therefore that is why I am rating this as a 5 START recipe

    Thanks, Janet

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Janet – Yes, you can swap in spinach. The spinach won’t need as much time to cook as the kale, so just add that toward the end of the cooking time. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Nancy C Pichette wrote:

    Loved the recipe. Also Loved the lowfat Beef Lo Mein recipe. Is there anywhere I could get the nutrition facts for recipes?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Nancy – I’m glad you enjoyed the recipes. We don’t currently provide nutritional calculations – I’m sorry!

  • Doris wrote:

    Hello Martha! You know I love your recipes ! I have never had this soup but want to know if I could substitute broccoli rabe instead of the kale? Not a fan of it but I do eat broccoli rabe all the time. Just a thought. I would like your opinion please. I have home made stock in my freezer all the time. It’s something I have done most of my life thanks to Mom. Have a great day!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Doris – Sure – you can swap in a different green instead of the kale. BTW – Tuscan kale is (in my opinion) much better tasting than the regular curly kale – if you haven’t tried it yet, you might like it! Hope that helps!

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