Barb's Zuppa Toscana

Purely from scratch, and better ingredients and proportions make this Zuppa Toscana a creamy, hearty, and robust sausage-potato soup; every bite is perfection. For around 25 years, I've been making and tweaking this recipe to make it better, and more like its Olive Garden counterpart.  The result is a flavor that hit the mark and went beyond it. 

what's cool about this recipe

Super Fast to Make

When I first started making this recipe, it took me a long time. Over the years, I've simplified the more time-consuming tasks, and perfected the art of "whipping it up" in a flash. Now, it's my easy, incredibly satisfying meal I can whip up in no time and feed the family for days without complaint. Gotta love that.

It's One to Memorize

Once you get the hang of it, this recipe is a cinch. The ingredients become obvious, the routine is set in stone and the entire cooking process becomes self-guided and intuitive. It's wonderful to mentally inventory the kitchen to see what I have available and know in a flash if I have everything I need to make heaven in a bowl. Definitely memorize this one; it'll serve you well over the years. 

All-Time Favorite Soup

Hands-down, this is my all-time favorite soup. You won't see that accolade anywhere else here in my online recipe book. 25 years in, this soup retains that title. This soup hits the protein, fat, carb, veggies, and robust flavors that feel both exhilarating and comforting. Whether a cold Winter night, or the need for something light, this soup is the everything soup. I will love this soup forever.

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana = BULLSEYE but BETTER

Years ago, before the Internet, I set out to create the flavor I adored at Olive Garden. I found a recipe for a knock-off, and while it was close, it didn't hit the mark. So I tweaked. I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked, right down to making my own sausage and broths for it. The result is a flavor that hit the mark and went beyond it.

 

Barb's Zuppa Toscana

Purely from scratch, better ingredients and proportions make this Zuppa Toscana a creamy, hearty, and robust sausage-potato soup; every bite is perfection. For around 25 years, I've been making and tweaking this recipe to make it better, and more like its Olive Garden counterpart.  The result is a flavor that hit the mark and went beyond it. 

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Author Mom

Ingredients

LARGE BATCH

  • 6 Quart Stock pot
  • 3 lbs Italian sausage with
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes if you like it spicy. Add more, less, or none to your tastes
  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt Add more or less to taste
  • 5 lg Idaho russet potatoes skin-on, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced into 1/8" thin triangles
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 bag or 1 bunch of chopped Kale (this is to taste, so add more or less as you like)

SMALL BATCH

  • 2- quart sauce pan and a medium skillet for browning sausage.
  • 1 lbs Italian sausage with
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes if you like it spicy. Add more, less, or none to your tastes
  • 12 oz beef broth
  • 12 oz chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp salt Add more or less to taste
  • 2 lg Idaho potatoes skin-on, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced into 1/8" thin triangles
  • 2/3 C heavy cream
  • A few handfuls about 3 C of chopped Kale (this is to taste, so add more or less as you like)

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, brown sausage and red pepper flakes together until brown or mostly cooked
  2. Add both beef and chicken broths, then stir in the salt.
  3. While bringing the soup to a boil, chop and add potatoes, skin-on, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced into 1/8” thin triangles. Simmer 20 minutes.
  4. While simmering, chop kale into 1/2” wide strips, or use pre-chopped kale.
  5. Once it has simmered for 20 minutes, stir in the cream, and add kale one handful at a time, pushing the kale down into the soup with your spatula. Kale goes in big and fluffy, but reduces significantly. If you like more kale, at a couple of handfuls at a time, pushing down into the liquid and covering with a lid for a few minutes while it wilts. Be sure to push it down into the broth, as it will add flavor.
  6. Simmer on low another 20 minutes or until the kale is wilted and tender.
  7. Serve, refrigerate, or freeze.

Recipe Notes

NOTES: Zuppa Tuscana is best the next day after sitting in the fridge. The potatoes will absorb salt, so if it's too salty today, it may not be tomorrow.   Use homemade broths, because they taste NOTHING like what you buy in the store in jars. Making broth is easy, and you make it simply by stewing chicken bones in the crockpot for a day, or by stewing beef bones or using the drippings from a roast. A world different than store-bought.  Once you taste homemade, store bought broths are disgusting and watered down. Horrible stuff. Trust me, make your own broths and freeze it. I'll be getting a how-to up for you kids in a bit.

Quick background about where this recipe came from, and how it's used 

Years ago, before the Internet, I set out to create the flavor I adored at Olive Garden. I found a recipe for a knock-off, and while it was close, it didn't hit the mark. So I tweaked. I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked, right down to making my own sausage and broths for it. The result is a flavor that hit the mark and went beyond it. You kids grew-up on this very recipe, and it's the one that feels most like home.

I make this recipe for family gatherings, potlucks, and just for a comfort food around the house on chilly nights. It gets raves every time, with discerning palates claiming it's better than its Olive Garden counterpart. While that wasn't what I was shooting for when tweaking it, using better ingredients while changing others and modifying proportions elevated it above the target. A creamy, hearty, and robust sausage-potato soup; every bite is perfection. After resting overnight in the fridge, the flavors pronounce and meld, becoming distinct and elegant, so leftovers are a greater delight.  Make this the night before a potluck or event for an easy, gush-worthy display of your kitchen prowess.

This is one of those recipes that will be in the family for generations, so memorize it and how to make the ingredients. Always keep sausage and broth on hand for the moment the need for this ultimate comfort food strikes. And under no circumstances do you EVER tell anyone how easy it is to make once you get the hang of it. You're a slave to the stove, you poor thing, and you deserve all the acclaim and adoration they can muster. Milk it. Because when your kids are old enough to hold a spoon, they will throw this on the floor and scream like a rabid banshee just like they do with everything else. Take what praise you can get while the gettin's good and store it up for days such as that.   

Variations 

  • No.
  • Do not.
  • Ever.
  • Modify this. 
  • EVER!
  • Okay, maybe if you like less spice/heat to it, reduce the red pepper flakes or omit them entirely. Hoff doesn't like the heat, so he prefers no red pepper flakes. 

Making it into a Mix/ Bulk pre-prepared

  • triple batch: This is the size I usually made for you kids. It fills a 6-quart stockpot to an inch below the top, which is really pushing it, but totally worth it in leftovers. If you're going to make more, I really suggest having several MASSIVE stockpots on the stove, and just use the triple batch recipe to the left in each one. 
  • frozen: This soup is totally freezable. Freeze it flat in gallon freezer bags, or containers. Freezing it will keep you from burning-out on 6 quarts of it all at once, so that's a plus. 
  • canning: I have never canned this, but I plan to. I'll update this once I have to let you know what I learned. If you do it before I do, let me know how it turned out.

Food Pairing Suggestions

  • dinner rolls
  • salad

Drink Pairing Suggestions

  • water
  • soda: cola
  • Iced tea, not hot. Hot tea with hot soup and hot spice is overkill on the hot. You need a contrasting temperature profile. Go with cold.
  • red wine: Merlot

 

visual instructions on how to make it.... just in case

step-by-step or video instruction

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