In the heat of summer, one does not automatically think of soup. But I did. Why, you might ask? Well because our air conditioning is blasting in our Florida home. This summer is a heat record breaker around the country for sure, but it shouldn’t stop us from enjoying a hearty bowl of soup!
The recipe I bring you today is an Olive Garden copy cat of the beloved Zuppa Toscana. Yes, everyone knows at least one person that is obsessed with Zuppa Toscana. And honestly it is such a classic cult favorite because it’s SO GOOD. It’s creamy, rich, hearty…yet the broth also seems light and flavorful! If you’ve tried it, you know what I mean!
Zuppa Toscana is such a lovely soup with tons of flavor packed in, yet it is relatively easy to cook. The ingredients in this soup are easy to find at any local grocery store. And the prep to table time is only about 40 minutes total! How great is that?
If you’re wondering where Zuppa Toscana came from, that’s a great question. Did it originate in the kitchens of Olive Garden? Well, no. Zuppa Toscana actually means “Tuscan soup” in Italian. In Italy, it is called “Minestra di Pane” or “bread soup”. I was fascinated to learn the original Zuppa Toscana is actually enjoyed on Tuscan toasted bread!
The original Italian bread soup has some of the same ingredients as the Olive Garden version, such as potatoes and kale. However in Italy the soup is also made with cannellini beans, zucchini and tomato pulp. Rigatino is an Italian bacon that is added to the soup. The toasted Tuscan bread added into the soup is robust, which is necessary due to the moisture from the soup.
Now that we had a little lesson on the origin and original preparation method of the Zuppa Toscana, let’s get to the copycat Olive Garden recipe that we all love so much!
What You Need:
- 3 strips chopped bacon
- 2 chopped hot Italian sausages
- 3 chopped russet potatoes
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 cup chopped kale (I used spinach!)
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 cups Tuscan broth
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
Heat a pot and toss in chopped bacon. Brown the bacon, then add garlic and chopped sausages. You may use regular crumbled Italian sausage, but I had the sausages on hand so I used those. If you go this route, just make sure to chop into pretty small pieces. Brown the sausage.
Add the chopped potatoes and stir. I like to do this to brown the potatoes just a tad bit and then add the broth and boiling water. At this point I like to season the soup with garlic salt, pepper, oregano, and toss in the bay leaf.
When the potatoes are nearly done, add the kale (I used spinach and we loved this variation too!) and parsley. You can tell the potatoes are nearly done by sticking a knife into them. If the knife goes through fairly easily, they’re almost ready. Stir in the heavy cream, and add 1 tbsp butter. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer about 5 minutes, the potatoes should be cooked through. And we’re done!
I love to serve this Zuppa Toscana alongside rustic bread and butter, and I like to top the soup with grated Parmesan cheese! I hope you enjoy this recipe no matter the season! It will have you addicted! The best part? You can whip this up yourself faster than getting Olive Garden take out! Bon appetite!