Who doesn’t love a hot bowl of hearty soup on a cold or chilly day? This Italian-inspired soup is my own take on Olive Garden’s popular Zuppa Toscana. It’s like a warm hug that reminds you “when you’re here, you’re family” 🙂

Zuppa Toscana

Serves: 4-6

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Cook time: 30-35 minutes

Total time: 45-55 minutes


  • 1 ¼ lbs ground sausage (chicken or pork; I like to use garlic basil chicken sausage links from the butcher counter and remove the casings upon cooking) 
  • 2 tsp of fennel seed
  • 1 large onion (sweet, yellow or white – I prefer sweet in this soup), thinly sliced
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 medium sized green bell pepper, tiny diced
  • ½ cup carrots, peeled and tiny diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic (or 8 small garlic cloves), minced
  • 1 TBSP of dried basil, or, a fat handful of fresh basil leaves cut into ribbons or roughly torn
  • ½ TBSP of dried parsley, or, a scant handful of fresh, chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 lb baby yellow potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 head of kale, stems removed, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese rind (I use Trader Joe’s Black Pepper Toscana)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Optional: crushed red pepper flakes
  • Optional: top the soup with freshly grated parmesan cheese (I use Trader Joe’s Black Pepper Toscana)

Let’s do this!

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the sausage. As the sausage is cooking, break it apart until it is crumbled. Once the sausage is cooked, about 8-10 minutes, season it with salt and pepper and stir in the dried fennel seed along with 2 cloves of minced/pressed garlic. Remove from heat once cooked, draining any fat if necessary. 
  2. While the sausage is cooking, heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add a generous swirl of EVOO to coat the pot. Once hot, add the sliced onions and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are softened and starting to golden, about 5-7 minutes. 
  3. Add in the tiny diced carrots and green bell pepper along with another swirl of EVOO, if needed. Cook for about 4 minutes or until the carrots and peppers are softened. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining 2 cloves of the minced/pressed garlic.
  4. Once the onions, carrots and peppers are cooked, stir in the flour, making sure all of the vegetables are fully coated. Pour in the chicken stock. 
  5. Reduce the heat to low and add the cooked sausage into the pot along with the thinly sliced baby potatoes, basil, parsley, parmesan cheese rind and optional crushed red pepper flake. Cover the pot and allow the flavors to integrate, the cheese rind to dissolve, and the potatoes to soften, about 15 minutes. 
  6. Add in the chopped kale, stirring to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the kale has wilted. 
  7. Stir in the heavy cream, allowing it to incorporate for another 2 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  8. Ladle into bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  9. Enjoy!

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