Zuppa Toscana

$7.51 recipe / $0.94 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.86 from 137 votes
Pin RecipeJump to recipe →

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that we make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

Zuppa Toscana is probably one of the richest, most hearty soups out there, and definitely one of my favorites. This creamy soup with tender potatoes and flavorful Italian sausage is modeled after the famous Zuppa Toscana from The Olive Garden restaurant, but I threw in my own personal twist. I’ve added an extra budget-friendly ingredient and lightened it up just a touch so I can slurp up a giant bowl without feeling too ful.

Close up overhead view of a bowl of Zuppa Toscana with a spoon in the center.

What is Zuppa Toscana??

If you’ve never been to Olive Garden or had Zuppa Toscana anywhere else, I’d describe it as a creamy potato soup loaded with flavorful Italian sausage, kale, and bacon. The original version uses heavy cream, bacon, and a whole pound of sausage, but I decided to try to lighten it up a bit. I used half and half instead of heavy cream, subbed half the sausage for white beans, used smoked paprika for smokiness instead of bacon, and then loaded up on potatoes and kale. The result? Still totally creamy and chock full of flavor, plus a hefty dose of vegetables. I’m probably going to eat nothing but this soup for the next four days straight (it has kale, so it’s okay, right?).

Ingredients for Zuppa Toscana

Here are all of the ingredients you’ll need to make this homemade Zuppa Toscana:

  • Italian Sausage: You can use hot, mild, or sweet Italian sausage for this soup, although I prefer hot because I love the combination of spicy with the creamy broth. Buy loose ground Italian sausage rather than sausage in casings.
  • Onion and Garlic: These aromatics provide a deep base flavor for the soup.
  • Great Northern Beans: These mild white beans add bulk to the soup without adding a lot to the total cost of the recipe. The flavor blends seamlessly and you get a lot more fiber and nutrients in every bowl! If you don’t like beans, you can leave them out and add more sausage or potatoes.
  • Chicken Broth: The base for this soup’s broth is chicken broth, which adds both flavor and salt. Make sure to get a really flavorful broth or else your soup will be lacking. I like to make my broth using Better than Bouillon because it’s inexpensive and super flavorful.
  • Half and Half: This is what makes the broth rich and creamy. If you don’t have half and half, you can substitute with an equal mix of whole milk and heavy cream.
  • Red Potatoes: Potatoes add a lot of bulk to this soup which helps you feel full and satisfied. Their tender texture is also great with the creamy broth and they soak up tons of flavor.
  • Kale: Dark green kale adds a ton of texture and color to the soup and really helps round it out to make the soup a full meal in a bowl. If you don’t like kale, you can toss in a couple handfuls of spinach at the end of the recipe and just stir it in until wilted.
  • Spices: The Italian sausage and chicken broth bring a ton of flavor to the soup already, so all we need to add is a little smoked paprika (to mimic the smoky flavor of bacon), some crushed red pepper, and freshly ground black pepper!

make it vegetarian

The sausage in this recipe is responsible for adding a lot of flavor to this soup, so if you plan to skip the sausage you’ll need to ramp up the seasoning. I suggest adding a tablespoon or so of Italian seasoning blend to make up for the spices that are found in the Italian sausage. You may also want to add an extra can of beans to bulk up the soup a bit.

What to Serve with Zuppa Toscana

This is truly a meal in a bowl with the starchy potatoes, protein-filled Italian sausage and beans, and veggilicious kale, but if you want something on the side I’ve got you covered. Garlic bread would probably be my first pick, or you can do something simple like No-Knead Bread or Soda Bread. Or maybe you want to go a little lighter and add a simple side salad to really make you feel like you’re at The Olive Garden!

Overhead view of a bowl of Zuppa Toscana with a spoon dipping into the center.
Share this recipe

Zuppa Toscana

4.86 from 137 votes
Zuppa Toscana is a creamy, filling, and flavorful soup with Italian sausage, potatoes, and kale. Just like The Olive Garden's, but made from scratch!
Overhead view of a bowl of Zuppa Toscana with a spoon dipping into the center.
Servings 8 (1.5 cups each)
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 45 minutes


  • 1/2 lb. Italian Sausage, hot or mild ($1.75)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 15 oz. can Great Northern beans ($0.49)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
  • 3 cups chicken broth* ($0.39)
  • 1 cup water ($0.00)
  • 2 cups half and half ($1.49)
  • 1 lb. red potatoes ($1.29)
  • 1/2 lb. kale, chopped ($1.50)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, optional ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked black pepper, optional ($0.05)


  • Add the sausage to a large soup pot and sauté over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. The sausage should contain enough fat to keep it from sticking, if not add a touch of olive oil. It’s okay if a small amount browns on the bottom of the pot.
  • While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sauté until the onions are softened. The moisture from the onions should help dissolve any browned bits of sausage off the bottom of the pot.
  • Drain and rinse the can of beans. Add the beans, smoked paprika, chicken broth, one cup water, and half and half to the pot. Place a lid on the pot and let it come up to a simmer over medium heat.
  • While the pot is heating, cut each potato into quarters lengthwise, then slice across into thin, 1/8-inch thick slices. Add the potatoes to the pot along with the pre-chopped kale. The kale will fill the pot when it’s first added, but the heat from the liquid will wilt it within a few minutes. Stir it occasionally to help the wilting process.
  • Let the pot simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Season with red pepper flakes and freshly cracked black pepper if desired.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.



*I use Better Than Bouillon brand soup base to make my broth.


Serving: 1.5CupsCalories: 299.81kcalCarbohydrates: 27.85gProtein: 13.89gFat: 15.56gSodium: 723.19mgFiber: 5.15g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

How to Make Zuppa Toscana – Step by Step Photos

Brown Italian Sausage Then Add Onion and Garlic
Add 1/2 lb. Italian sausage to a large soup pot and sauté over medium heat, breaking it into chunks as it cooks. I didn’t use any extra oil because sausage tends to be pretty fatty. It’s okay if a little sticks to the bottom of the pot because it will dissolve off in the next steps. While the sausage browns, dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and continue to sauté until the onions are soft.

Add White Beans and Smoked Paprika
Drain and rinse one 15oz. can of Great Northern beans, then add them to the pot with 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika. The smoked paprika will give that smoky hint that the bacon would have supplied. Sneaky, right?

Add Broth and Half and Half
Next add 3 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup water, and 2 cups (one pint) of half and half. If you’re not from the U.S., “half and half” is like a lighter version of light cream. Read about it here. Put a lid on the pot and let it come to a simmer over medium heat.

Slice Potatoes for Zuppa Toscana
While the pot is heating up, wash and slice one pound of red potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices. Slicing them thinly helps them cook faster, plus makes a great texture in the soup. Add the potatoes to the pot.

Bagged Chopped Kale
Instead of buying a regular bunch of kale, I bought this bag of pre-chopped kale (it’s actually less expensive than regular bunches at my local store). This is a 12oz. bag, so I just used about 2/3 of it. If you are buying your kale in a bunch, use about one bunch. Make sure to remove the stems and tear the leaves into 1 to 2-inch pieces.

Add Kale to Zuppa Toscana
Add the kale to the pot and it will likely fill it up to the top. Let the heat from the liquid begin to wilt the kale. Give it a stir occasionally to help it contact the hot soup and wilt.

Wilted Kale in Zuppa Toscana
After a few minutes, it will have wilted down into the soup nicely. Let the soup simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Simmered Zuppa Toscana
I like my soup spicy (and had used mild Italian sausage), so I seasoned it with a pinch of red pepper flakes. A little freshly cracked black pepper is also nice. Depending on what type of broth you use, you may need to add a little salt (I did not add any).

Finished Zuppa Toscana
And that’s it!! The potatoes and beans help thicken the broth up nicely, without having to use heavy cream.

Overhead view of a bowl of zuppa toscana with a spoon on the side.

Absolutely deserving of all the internet hype. SO. GOOD.

Share this recipe

Posted in: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Leave a Comment
  1. This soup is incredible, I’ve been making it for years! I’ve never tried, but I am wondering if it would freeze well? Or would the half and half not take to that well?

  2. I made this for the first time tonight, used spicy sausage so didn’t add any red pepper. I definitely had to add salt but I used low sodium broth. This is one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever made and so easy! I will definitely make it again.

  3. Used ground Italian turkey sausage, and spinach instead of kale. Excellent as leftovers.

  4. We have made this more than a dozen times and it’s always amazing. A family favorite. We add spicy Italian sausage and use warm ciabatta to soak up all that delicious broth. It’s beyond a perfect recipe!!!

  5. I find that every time I make one of your recipes that it is a hit! This one is no exception. I’m not a big fan of kale so I used spinach. Thank you for all your great recipes.

  6. Can I use russet potatoes instead of red for this? Would it make a huge difference?

    1. You can definitely substitute with russets, but it will change the texture of the soup slightly. Russets have a more mealy texture and will break down more when cooked than red potatoes. They also have thick skins that should be removed before slicing. On the other hand, red potatoes have a more waxy/smooth texture and the skins are thin enough that you don’t need to peel them first. ~ Marion :)

  7. Hi there, I made your Zuppa toscano soup âne it’s lacking something, what can I add to spice it up .

    1. Hi, Denise! You could use an extra hot/spicy Italian sausage to kick it up a notch. I would also suggest adding 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or even a 1/2 tsp!) instead of a pinch, as suggested in the recipe. You might also try just adding a bit more salt and pepper! We use Better than Boullion to make our broths, and it tends to be a bit saltier than regular boxed broth. Since there are a lot of other liquid ingredients in this recipe, and potatoes can really take a lot of salt — it could just be one of those cases where it needs a bit more salt to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients! ~Marion :)

  8. Really delicious and came together quickly. I cooked a pound of chicken Italian sausage and used half for a couple pizzas and saved the other half for this soup a few nights later. Only change I made was adding a slurry of cornstarch and about an extra half cup of milk at the end to thicken it a bit more.

    Served with garlic bread.

    Yummy comfort food for a winter evening.

  9. Delicious! I didn’t have any white beans so I used pinto beans instead, and it was wonderful. Will make again!

  10. A winter warmer, one of my favs. I do substitute undiluted evaporated milk for the cream, upping the protein, lowering the cost, and lowering the saturated fat. It is still creamy and my poor Covid “infused” relatives say it helps them–note: they recovered, due to this soup?

    1. I made this last night and my kids went nuts over it! Even my veggie-hating 12-year-old ate every drop, greens and all, with enthusiasm. Easy, affordable, and delicious, this one is becoming part of my regular dinner rotation!

  11. One of my favorite recipes, ever. I add parmesan (about 1/2c) which makes it even better, but it’s great as-is. I go back to this every winter!

  12. I love this soup. When I’m constructing this dish I make a few modifications. I don’t drain/rinse the beans, I use chicken base with water instead of stock, and I add a 1/2 tablespoon of puréed Calabrian chiles. Turns out great!

  13. This is a new family favorite. I used hot Italian sausage. The flavor was excellent and it made great leftovers.