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A&E >  Food

Dorothy Dean presents: One-pot toscana soup – it’s what’s for zuppa

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 12, 2021

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

Last month, I shared a copycat recipe for Olive Garden’s chicken gnocchi soup. It was a big hit, which led to requests for another one of the Italian restaurant chain’s popular soups, zuppa toscana.

Loaded with hot Italian sausage, crisp bacon bits, tender rounds of potatoes and fresh kale, it’s easy to see how this creamy, hearty soup is a top-selling favorite.

This homemade version is absolutely spot on, and it’s a one-pot soup, so it’s super easy to make. I was actually blown away at how few ingredients and time it took to create such a savory soup.

First, the sausage is browned and crumbled, then removed to drain. Chopped bacon is added to the pot, cooked until crisp and set to drain with the sausage. Diced onions and minced garlic are sautéed in a bit of the residual bacon grease, before flour is stirred in, followed by chicken stock, salt, pepper and sliced potatoes.

The soup is brought to a gentle boil to allow the potatoes to cook through, then the cooked sausage, bacon, kale and heavy cream are stirred in. It cooks for a few minutes more, just until the kale is wilted.

Served with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a slice of crusty bread, this soup is irresistibly delicious.

I knew my husband was a fan of it but was surprised when my 9-year-old daughter slurped down bowl after bowl. She can handle spicy, and it’s not overpowering, but if you aren’t a fan, you can substitute mild sausage and also add red pepper flakes to control the heat.

The recipe calls for pork sausage, but turkey or chicken sausage can be used. I love the texture and flavor the kale adds to the soup, but if you like spinach better, go with that.

Zuppa toscana

Adapted from

1 pound hot Italian sausage

4 slices bacon, chopped

½ yellow onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons flour

6 cups chicken broth

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 russet potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch rounds

1 bunch curly kale, leaves stripped and chopped, about 3 cups

¾ cup heavy cream

Parmesan shavings, for serving

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot, brown the sausage over medium-high heat, stirring and crumbling the sausage as it cooks. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Add bacon into the same pot and fry in residual sausage grease until crisp, then remove to the plate with the sausage. Drain all but 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of bacon grease.

Add the onion to the pot and cook until softened, about 4 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Sprinkle the flour over the onion and garlic, stirring to combine, then stir in the chicken stock, salt, pepper and potatoes and bring to a boil.

Gently boil about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add in the cooked sausage, bacon, kale and heavy cream. Stir and cook until the kale is wilted, about 5-10 minutes.

Serve topped with parmesan shavings and breadsticks or crusty bread.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at

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