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    How to make Zuppa Toscana (3 methods)

    Brrr… winter nights? Craving something to warm the belly and comfort the soul? This is what you need brewing slowly in your kitchen… Zuppa Toscana! A giant pot of this creamy concoction made up of crumbled sausage, tender, melt in your mouth potatoes, crispy heavenly bacon, and the goodness of kale.

    It can’t get better than this…This one is cozy beyond cozy! Today I’m showing you three methods: stovetop, slow cooker, and instant pot.

    a bowl of zuppa toscana

    What is Zuppa Toscana?

    Zuppa Toscana, literally means Tuscan soup. This versions might not have much to do with soups made by Tuscans, as it originated right here in America, in your favorite Olive Garden. But even so, it has become quite famous and developed quite a following. And now you can make it in your very own kitchen!

    It has all the elements of classic Italian fare with that rustic feel you get by adding different layers of flavors. Fresh produce, bacon, sausage, cream… These flavors and textures combine for the most comforting and savory dish, which will result in some seriously addicting eating in your home this winter!

    You ready to take a bite?

    a big bowl of zuppa toscana with some bread

    Ingredients… yeah… I know I am enticing you here…

    all of our ingredients on a white background
    • Italian sausage – Removed from casing. I am using both sweet and spicy varieties. Believe me, it’s great, do it this way!
    • Crispy bacon – Ay-yay-yaaay… mmm… I know!
    • Hearty and chunky, fork tender, potatoes – so comforting.
    • Kale – Oh-my-favorite-kale… provides great texture in every spoonful.
    • Red chili flakes, garlic, oregano and thyme – To accentuate that Italian zing.
    • Chicken broth – The base that marries everything together.
    • Cream – So needed to add richness to the broth.
    • White wine – To take this zuppa to next level! We are using just 1/2 cup. The rest you can toast with your family to this zuppa in the end… cheers!
    half view of our bowl of zuppa

    How to cook: Stovetop method

    Collage of four process shots.

    As all three methods start similarly, I will focus on the stovetop version for now. You can find slow cooker and instant pot methods in the recipe card.

    Grab a heavy bottom pot, like a Dutch oven or cast iron pot, and fry the bacon. Remove bacon and discard excess bacon drippings, leaving about 2-3 tablespoons in the pan. Add sausage, break up with a wooden spoon and cook till brown. Remove and set aside.

    Add chopped onions to the same pan and sauté till translucent. Toss in your chopped garlic and cook till fragrant. Pour in your wine and reduce it to half, about 2-3 minutes… you are starting to add so many layers of flavors to your zuppa pot! Season with salt, pepper, chili flakes, thyme and oregano.

    Time to add the chicken broth and potatoes. Bring your soup up to a low boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cook until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 10-15 minutes. While it’s simmering, you can check out my roundups of the best sausage recipes and best crockpot soups.

    Add in the browned meat mixture. Keep some aside as topping to garnish the top of your soup bowls.

    Add your kale and cook until the kale is wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and reduce to low heat, and let all the flavors marry for a few minutes.

    a ladlefull of zuppa

    Optional: If you want a little thicker consistency, mix 1-2 Tbsp cornstarch with a little heavy cream and stir into the soup during the last two minutes of cooking. Another method is to smash some of your potatoes and that starchiness will thicken your zuppa.

    How to serve

    Whatever method you use, you have one tasty pot in your kitchen. Now all that’s left is to serve up! Garnish it with the remaining sausage and bacon, along with some shaved Parmesan cheese and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme. That’s it… slurp… slurp! Oh… don’t forget an unlimited side of some great crusty bread to soak up this delicious thing in your bowl!

    Sometimes I also like a nice fresh salad alongside my zuppa.

    a bowl of zuppa, with some bread in the background

    People often ask:

    Why should you sauté the sausage and bacon?

    Sautéing the sausage and bacon browns the meat and renders the fat. This results in amazing flavors and aromas.

    What type of potato should I use?

    Russet potatoes are starchy and ideal, as they add a great amount of thickness. You should cook it just enough to make them fork tender. Don’t overcook, as you don’t want mushy potatoes in your bowl. Saying that, you can experiment with other potatoes like Yukon, red or yellow. If you’re a big fan of potatoes, don’t miss my roundup of the best potato recipes!

    Does this make good leftovers?

    Reheated? Oh YES! Are you kidding me? As a left over the next day, this zuppa is a BOMB, with all the flavors from the meats getting accentuated overnight. You are going to love it. Just store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days.

    That being said, I don’t recommend freezing this soup. Dairy does tend to separate when frozen and potatoes lose their consistency pretty quickly in the freezer. That’s okay, it’s so tasty you’ll want to slurp it up long before it would make it to the freezer!

    Can I make it keto friendly?

    Yes, easy. Replace the potatoes with turnips or cauliflower florets!!

    How about dairy free?

    Certainly. Just replace the cream with one can of full fat, unsweetened coconut milk (no it won’t taste coconutty) and omit the parmesan garnish. You can also make it Whole30 by also omitting the white wine.

    side view of the full ladle

    This zuppa is so out of this world that even though it didn’t actually originate from Tuscany, I am sure every Italian would approve and enjoy it wholeheartedly!

    Zuppa Toscana, on my Gypsy Plate… Enjoy!!!

    zuppa toscana in the gypsy bowl, alongside some crusty bread

    Looking for more comfort food?
    Welsh Rarebit
    Grillades & Grits
    Creamy Lemon Chicken
    Eggplant Parmesan
    Blackened Shrimp and Grits
    Jägerschnitzel
    Southern Squash Casserole
    Pesto Shrimp and Grits
    Loaded Cauliflower Soup

    close up shot of zuppa toscana in a white bown garnished with crumbled bacon and sausage and shaved parmesan cheese

    How to make Zuppa Toscana (3 methods)

    Yield: 6 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    Total Time: 45 minutes

    This hearty and comforting soup is based on the version made famous by Olive Garden. But I don't want to call it a copycat... because this home made version is much better!

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb Italian sausage links
    • 8 oz bacon
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 4-5 medium potatoes
    • 4 cups chopped kale
    • 7 cups chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1.5 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
    • Red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste
    • Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish

    Instructions

    Stovetop Method

    1. In heavy bottom pot, fry bacon until crispy over medium-high heat. Remove bacon, set aside, and remove all but 2-3 Tbsp bacon drippings. Remove sausage from casings and fry in bacon drippings, crumbling with wooden spoon, until browned and crumbly. Remove and set aside.
    2. Add chopped onions to same pan, sauté until translucent. Add garlic, cook until fragrant. Add wine and reduce for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, chili flakes, thyme and oregano.
    3. Add chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook until potatoes are just for tender, about 10-15 minutes.
    4. Add about 3/4 of the meat mixture, saving some aside for garnishing.
    5. Stir in kale and cook 2-3 minutes, until wilted.
    6. Reduce heat to low, add heavy cream, stir nicely and allow flavors to mix together for a few minutes.
    7. Taste. Add additional salt, pepper, red chili flakes, thyme and oregano as desired.
    8. Serve in your favorite bowl and garnish with more bacon and sausage, shaved Parmesan and fresh thyme sprigs. Serve with plenty of nice crusty bread!

    Slow Cooker Method

    1. Begin by following steps 1 & 2 from stovetop method.
    2. Add 3/4 of cooked meat mixture (saving some aside for garnishing) and and potatoes to the slow cooker. Add in onion wine mixture. Swirl a little water in the original pan and pour that into the slow cooker, so you don't lost any of that reduced wine.
    3. Add chicken broth and just enough water to cover the potatoes.
    4. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
    5. Stir in cream and kale and cook until kale has wilted.

    Instant Pot Method

    1. With instant pot set to sauté, complete steps 1 & 2 from stovetop method in instant pot.
    2. Add in potatoes, 3/4 of meat mixture (saving some aside for garnishing) and chicken broth.
    3. Set pressure to HIGH on manual setting and set time for 5 minutes. Afterwards, allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before opening.
    4. Stir in cream and kale. Serve once kale has wilted.



    Notes

    1. For thicker zuppa, mix 1-2 Tbsp flour with a little heavy cream and stir into your pot during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.
    2. Refrigerate leftovers overnight and get ready for even deeper and richer flavor the next day, as all of those layers have mingled nicely together!
    3. Make it keto by replacing potatoes with cauliflower florets.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 6 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 898Total Fat 61gSaturated Fat 29gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 32gCholesterol 168mgSodium 2678mgCarbohydrates 48gFiber 6gSugar 8gProtein 41g

    Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    split image with zuppa toscana in a white bowl with a piece of crusty bread dipped in, and below that a close up image of the zuppa toscana

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