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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.
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.
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!)
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.
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:
- Braised Beef and Tortelloni
- Farfalle with Italian Sausage and Tuscan Kale
- Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms
- Tuscan Kale with Garlic Tomatoes
- Tuscan-Style Beans
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.
Taste and only add salt if needed.
Once the soup is at serving temperature (be careful not to overheat), ladle into bowls and enjoy.
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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.