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Zuppa Toscana AKA Tuscan Sausage Soup

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I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten at an Olive Garden, but their Zuppa Toscana soup is world famous! A Tuscan Sausage Soup, it’s chicken broth based and full of Italian sausage, bacon, greens and a heck of a lot more deliciousness!

Zuppa Toscana or Tuscan Sausage Soup in a white, ruffle edged soup bowl

Zuppa Toscana AKA Tuscan Sausage Soup

My first trip abroad was to the quaint walled Tuscan town of Cortona. My parents were living in Italy for part of the summer and the temptation to visit was impossible to ignore. From the cobblestone streets to the narrow shops to the most flavorful produce I’d ever encountered, it was a trip I’ll never forget.

Everything tasted better in Italy. Not a can of Chef Boyardee in sight (my introduction to Italian food!). Whether anyone in Italy has ever even made this Zuppa Toscana is questionable, but it does have Italian sausage, so there’s that!

Zuppa Toscana or Tuscan Sausage Soup overhead view in a white soup bowl

What is the Origin of Zuppa Toscana?

Zuppa Toscana translates to Soup in the style of Tuscany, and was made famous by the Olive Garden restaurant chain. I’d never heard of it until I saw different bloggers’ versions which piqued my curiosity. I pieced together my favorite parts of some of those recipes and whipped up a batch.

Bill, better known as the picky husband, was an instant fan. I knew it was a bit spicy for his “delicate” palate, but nothing a few crumbled saltines wouldn’t pacify. When the weather turns for the worse, this Tuscan Sausage Soup will hit the spot, by warming you from the inside out.

Tips for Making this Zuppa Toscana

You can easily tweak this recipe in many ways. More spicy or less spicy, more vegetables or less, a thin broth or thicker, it’s all up to you!

  • If you don’t like spicy foods, start with only 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. You can always add more after tasting a few spoonfuls. The same goes for salt as chicken broth varies in sodium content, so definitely taste before adding more salt.
  • I use mild Italian sausage, but it you like heat, try this zuppa toscana with spicy Italian sausage.
  • Rumor has it that the Olive Garden uses kale instead of spinach. Any favorite greens will work.
  • I added red bell pepper for color, feel free to leave it out if you wish. The potatoes can be sliced or cubed depending on your preference.
  • There is some heavy cream in this recipe, providing some richness to the broth. If you’d like a lighter version, substitute half and half.
  • I added a tablespoon of cornstarch to give the broth a little more body. I didn’t think it made much difference, so you can always omit this step or increase the amount to 2 tablespoons.
  • PRO-Tip: If you’d like to freeze this soup, note that potatoes don’t freeze well. I’d suggest adding them after the soup is defrosted as you reheat the soup.

More favorite soups include this Sausage Pepper and Bean Soup, this Chicken Jambalaya Soup, and this Classic French Onion Soup. I’ve been eyeing some soups from my blogger friends including this Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup and this Turkey Dumpling Soup. All delicious comfort foods perfect for a meal on a chilly autumn or winter’s day.

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Zuppa Toscana or Tuscan Sausage Soup featured image

Zuppa Toscana AKA Tuscan Sausage Soup

A flavorful, spicy sausage soup in the style of Tuscany!

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Entree, Soup
  • Method: Sauteing, Simmering
  • Cuisine: American, Italian-American

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, more or less depending on desired heat
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth, I used Pacific brand, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt (taste broth first before adding any salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3-4 cups baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings from the bacon in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Remove bacon and dice when cool; set aside with the sausage.
  3. Stir the onions, garlic and bell pepper into the bacon drippings, and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour about 1/4 cup of broth into a small bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon cornstarch and set aside.
  5. Pour the rest of the chicken broth into the Dutch oven with the bacon and onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and let boil a few more minutes.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream, cooked sausage and bacon; heat through. Mix the spinach into the soup just before serving.
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11 comments on “Zuppa Toscana AKA Tuscan Sausage Soup”

  1. Yes please! I have one little potato left… Might try a small batch for lunch:@)

  2. I love soup this time of the year and can’t seem to get enough of it. This will be a welcome treat from the huge batch of chili I made and have been nursing all week. I’m always looking for a new bowl of soup to try.

    It’s cold and snowing here all day, not much accumulation but cold. Pretty sure I heard you had a winter blast earlier this week so stay warm.

  3. That sounds like a very delicious soup! I have never thought that sausages could be added to soup. I should really try that.

  4. Comforting, warming and delicious…a perfect soup for the season, Liz.

  5. I LOVE making soup, particularly at this time of the year (we got snow yesterday!), and this one looks like a hit. Lotta flavor in this — so many good ingredients. Thanks!

  6. A soup with sausage might be the only kind of soup my kids are willing to eat! I’ve got to try this!

  7. I’ve had lunch with my mom a few times at Olive Garden and this is always what I order! So excited to try your recipe.

    Nothing like Italy…Cortona is such a lovely little gem! I was just reading about Basilicata last night and it had me wanting to book a flight. But, maybe I’ll just make some of this delicious soup. 🙂

  8. This does sound good…especially when it’s after baking a ton of cookies. However I do not think I will top mine with Saltines!

  9. Oh Liz, this soup is just perfect for the weather here in California…cold and rainy…I so wish for a bowl of this hearty soup. Have a wonderful rest of the weel!

  10. Such a cozy and delicious soup, just perfect for these chilly winter nights!

  11. This is lovely. I cook a lot of soups, but I don’t tend to order them at restaurants – even inEurope! In any case, this is lovely, and a wonderful set of ingredients.

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