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Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana (Rustic Potato Soup)

September 27, 2009


Replete with spicy sausage, russet potatoes and fresh greens in a creamy broth, Olive Garden’s rustic potato soup (Zuppa Toscana) is a soup I can love. Though I can only wish to be Italian, I grew up in a home where ingredients like those used in Zuppa Toscana Soup were familiar staples.

A “poor man’s” meal is a simple dish that is made with ingredients that are plentiful, and inexpensive: beans, potatoes, noodles, rice, chicken, stale bread, etc. If these ingredients happen to be leftovers… all the better. Zuppa Toscana Soup may be a poor man’s meal, but it’s tasty enough for a king.

These ordinary staples often found their way into my mother’s hearty soups – along with fresh or home canned vegetables from the garden. It’s no wonder that the first time I tasted Zuppa Toscana Soup, it felt like coming home.

I found the following ‘copycat‘ recipe which claims to be Olive Garden’s version. Who can say for sure, but it is quite tasty. I’ve made it twice with only a couple of alterations. The potatoes are sliced into thin medallions in Olive Garden’s version of this soup, but I think I’ll chop mine into bite sized pieces next time because the medallions tend to fall apart when reheated.

We’ve already had a few cool evenings here, and before you know it winter will be on our doorstep. With a hearty loaf of bread, this makes an excellent weekend soup. Just heat it up and leave the ladle out.

Zuppa Toscana

6 to 8 servings

  • 1 lb ground spicy Italian sausage (remove casing and crumble)
  • 1½ tsp crushed red peppers
  • 1 large diced white onion
  • 4 Tbsp bacon pieces
  • 2 tsp garlic puree
  • 10 cups chicken broth or 10 cups water with 5 cubes or teaspoons of bullion
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I will only use 1/2 cup next time)
  • 1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 4 large potatoes (unpeeled and chopped into bite size pieces)
  • about 4 cups of kale (roughly chopped)

1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
2. In the same pan, sauté bacon till fat is rendered and add onions and garlic for approximately 10 minutes or until the onions are soft.
3. Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.
4. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
5. Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated.
6. Stir in the sausage.
7. Add kale just before serving. Delicious!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2009 3:52 pm

    Perfect! Bookmarking this. I love soups in the fall.

  2. Brandon permalink
    February 5, 2010 1:33 pm

    Loved it!!! Turned out perfect!!!! cooking it tonight!!!!

  3. jessi permalink
    April 16, 2010 9:24 pm

    i ♥ this soup mines even made with ♥ and i think even better than olive gardens .. well that what friends and family keeps telling me

  4. May 7, 2011 8:18 am

    automoyive, marine,domestic and aviation.NON Toxic Ecofriendly.

  5. July 27, 2012 4:51 pm

    Wow! What a fabulous recipe! I made this soup today and it is an exact replica of Olive Gardens. It is just yummy! The only things I changed were instead of using Italian Sausage, I used Spicy Brats because the taste is better too me. Also, I added chopped mushrooms because, I thought they would taste great in the soup and I was right. My husband and kids love this soup! My only other suggestions would be to go easy on the heavy cream. It will overpower the taste, however this is nothing a little extra chicken stock and water can’t fix. I really love this recipe and I will be making this soup forever. Enjoy!! 07/27/2012

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  7. September 25, 2014 11:08 am

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