Loaded Zuppa Toscana

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Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that’s loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

What is Zuppa Toscana?

Zuppa Toscana translates to Tuscan SoupIt’s a hearty, creamy, comfort food soup that’s filled with flavors of crispy bacon, spicy Italian sausage, tender potatoes, Parmesan cheese and creamy, along with a bit of kale. The kale makes it healthy, right?!   

These layers of various flavors combine for a rich and mouthwatering soup that the whole family will love.

What’s even better is that my homemade version of the Olive Garden Tuscan soup is far better than the restaurant version. Sorry, Olive Garden.

Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

Zuppa Toscana Ingredients

For this Olive Garden copycat Zuppa Toscana recipe, you’ll need:

  • Bacon
  • Italian sausage
  • Onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • Celery stalks
  • Russet potatoes
  • Cannellini beans
  • Kosher salt, optional 
  • Black pepper
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried thyme
  • Chicken stock or broth
  • Kale
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

How to Make Zuppa Toscana Soup

The beauty of this Olive Garden recipe is that you can make this soup in one of three ways:

  1. Stovetop
  2. Instant Pot
  3. Slow Cooker

The stovetop and Instant Pot versions are ready in about 40 minutes total, which includes the time it takes for the Instant Pot to heat up.

Slow cooker cooking times will vary whether you cook on low or high power, ranging from about 2 to 6 hours, depending on the what setting you’re using and your slow cooker since they do vary considerably in their heat intensity and output.

Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

Option 1: Stovetop

  1. On the stovetop, you’re going to fry the bacon, then cook the sausage in the bacon drippings.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, celery, potatoes, beans, salt and pepper, the various spices, along with chicken stock.
  3. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Add in the kale, heavy cream, and garnishing with Parmesan.

Option 2: Instant Pot

  1. If you’re using an Instant Pot, sauté and fry the bacon, then cook the sausage, before sautéing the onion, garlic, and celery briefly.
  2. Add the potatoes, beans, salt, peper, spices, and stock.
  3. Cook on manual for 5 minutes on high, do a natural release for 10 minutes, and then do a quick release.
  4. Add the kale, cream, and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

Option 3: Slow Cooker

  1. In a slow cooker, you will first need to cook the bacon and brown the sausage along with the onion, garlic, and celery.
  2. Transfer that, along with potatoes, beans, salt and pepper, and the spices, into your slow cooker.
  3. Add the broth and cook for 2-3 hours (HIGH) or to for 4-6 hours (LOW), or until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Add in the kale, cream, and garnish with fresh Parm.
Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

Tips for Making Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

This is a great make-ahead dinner option. The soup reheats well on the stovetop and lasts for days in the fridge. 

Feel free to mix and match the ingredients as you see fit! I’ve given my suggestions in the post above. 

I recommend using heavy cream, half and half, or at least whole milk in this recipe. Don’t use anything fat-free, as that will result in a thin and watery soup. 

Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

Recipe Variations to Try

This copycat Zuppa Toscana recipe is fairly flexible, so you can tailor the ingredients list to your needs. Here are my suggestions: 

  • Italian sausage — If you like a spicy soup, use a spicy Italian sausage or add chorizo for added flavor.
  • Celery — You could technically omit it, but I think they add great authentic flavor. You can also add carrots in addition.
  • Russet potatoes — I prefer Russet potatoes in this soup, although you could try a red potato or another favorite potato. You just don’t want them to disintegrate so keep an eye on them! For a lower carb version use cauliflower.
  • Cannellini beans — These are a buttery bean and excellent in this recipe, but another white bean or garbanzo beans could be substituted. If you don’t like beans, leave them out.
Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!
  • Bay leaves — These add lots of good flavor to the soup, but can be left out.
  • Oregano and Thyme — I used dried because I always have them on hand, but you can use fresh. Use a bit more fresh than you would dried. 
  • Kale — Believe it or not, I always add more than written, because it adds such a fabulous texture and flavor. However, add it to taste. You can sub with spinach or chard. It looks like an abundant quantity when you first add it, but it wilts and reduces in volume very dramatically.
  • Heavy cream — You can use regular cream or half-and-half (half heavy cream, half whole milk) if you prefer. Possibly you could use a dairy-free cream alternative, although I haven’t tried.
  • Parmesan cheese — I recommend grating fresh parmesan for this, but you can use Parmesan in the jar is that’s all you have.

Storage and Freezing Instructions

I recommend storing the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Unfortunately, this is not a good soup to freeze because milk products don’t often freeze and then thaw well. They can separate and look a bit unsightly, even if the taste is fine.

However, you could try freezing the soup as an experiment. Freeze it before adding the cream, thaw and reheat it, and add the cream at that point. However, I haven’t personally tried this method so can’t speak from firsthand experience. 

Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

What to Serve with Zuppa Toscana 

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4.62 from 13 votes

Loaded Zuppa Toscana

By Averie Sunshine
This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8
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Ingredients  

  • 7 slices uncooked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces (regular, turkey, or your favorite)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, regular or hot
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced small
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed; or to taste
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1-inch cubes
  • one 15.5-ounce cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (another white bean or garbanzo beans may be substituted)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, optional and/or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 bay leaves, optional but recommended
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, or 1 teaspoon fresh, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh, finely minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 6 cups kale, de-stemmed with thick rib removed and chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cream or half-and-half may be substituted
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste for garnishing (freshly grated is best but use what you have)

Instructions 

Stovetop:

  • In a large dutch oven (at least 7 quarts), fry bacon, then remove it, and set aside the bacon in a separate bowl.
  • Remove the drippings other than about 1 tablespoon and set the remaining aside for another use or discard.
  • Use the tablespoon of bacon drippings to cook the sausage, crumbling it with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  • Add the onion, garlic, celery, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until vegetables are just beginning to soften.
  • Place the bacon back in the Dutch oven, and add the potatoes, beans, salt, pepper, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, and chicken stock.
  • Bring to a medium boil over medium or medium-high heat and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and just barely beginning to break apart; however take care not to overcook them because you don't want them to get mushy or disintegrate.
  • Reduce the heat to low, remove the bay leaves, add the kale and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or just until wilted.
  • Turn off the heat, add the cream, and stir to combine.
  • Portion into bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese. Soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days*.

Instant Pot:

  • Turn 6-qt Instant Pot to Sauté and fry the bacon.
  • Remove the drippings other than about 1 tablespoon and set the remaining aside for another use or discard.
  • To the Instant Pot, add the sausage and cook in the bacon drippings until it's no longer pink, crumbing the sausage with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  • Add the onion, garlic, celery, and one teaspoon of the reserved bacon grease, and sauté for 3 minutes, or until vegetables just begin to soften.
  • Return the bacon to Instant Pot, and add the potatoes, beans, salt, pepper, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, chicken stock, and stir to combine.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set it to seal. Select the manual setting, then set it to high for 5 minutes. 
  • When finished, do a natural release for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.  You don’t want it to overcook and potatoes to get mushy.
  • Remove the bay leaves and add the kale and stir well to combine.
  • When the kale has wilted, add the cream, and stir to combine.
  • Portion into bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese. Soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days*.

Slow Cooker:

  • In a large skillet, fry bacon, remove it and set it aside.
  • Remove the drippings other than about 1 tablespoon and set the remaining aside for another use or discard.
  • Use the tablespoon of bacon drippings to cook the sausage, crumbling it with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  • Add the onion, garlic, celery, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until vegetables are just beginning to soften.
  • Transfer this mixture, along with the bacon, into your slow cooker (at least 7 quarts)
  • Add the potatoes, beans, salt, pepper, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, and chicken stock.
  • Cover with the lid and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, or on high for 2 to 4 hours. Note that all slow cookers vary in their heat intensity and output so these cooking times are guidelines only. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender as your benchmark.
  • Remove the bay leaves, add the kale and cook on high for 20 to 30 minutes, or until wilted and tender.
  • Turn the crockpot on warm, add the cream, and stir to combine.
  • Portion into bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese. Soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days*.

Notes

*I recommend storing the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Unfortunately, this is not a good soup to freeze because milk products don’t often freeze and then thaw well. They can separate and look a bit unsightly, even if the taste is fine.
Although as an experiment, you could try freezing the soup before adding the cream, thaw and reheat it, and add the cream at that point. However, I haven't personally tried this method so can't speak from firsthand experience.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 705kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 39g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 22g, Cholesterol: 88mg, Sodium: 1426mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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