This Lighter Zuppa Toscana is a lower-fat copycat version of the popular soup. It features Italian sausage, kale, and potatoes in a creamy broth.
I haven't been to Olive Garden in several years, and to be honest, I never really enjoyed most of their entrees. I do however, really enjoy going for lunch to get their unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks.
You just can't go wrong with soup. It's comforting to eat when it's cold out, it's usually relatively easy to make (this one is, at least), and it can easily be made ahead and reheated. In fact, it's often better that way.
What Makes this recipe different than others?
There are already lots of copycat recipes out there for the Olive Garden soups, but I like to alter them a little bit to cut back on fat a little bit. Many of the recipes call for cream, but I like to use evaporated milk in my soups instead.
I also decided to skip the bacon that is commonly added to most Zuppa Toscana recipes. I didn't feel like it added a lot to the soup, and there is already quite a bit of meaty flavor (and the fat that comes along with it) coming from the sausage.
So here is my version of Lighter Zuppa Toscana, a la Olive Garden.
How to make Lighter Zuppa Toscana:
Making this Lighter Zuppa Toscana is quick and easy enough that it can be achieved even on weeknights when you're pressed for time. It can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated and reheated later.
The most time-consuming step of the prep for this soup is peeling and cutting up the potatoes. Unfortunately, I don't have a clever time-saving hack to get you out of that one, except to say that if you use larger potatoes, the peeling will go slightly faster. Now it's time to dice the onion.
Once the potatoes and onions are ready, you can stem, wash, and chop the kale. Bonus: you can step this step if you buy bagged or frozen pre-chopped kale. Just make sure to give it a quick once-over and pick out any large pieces of tough stems.
Once your ingredients are prepped, you simply have to add them to your saucepan and cook everything.
Start with the sausage. Once it's browned, add the onion, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Then the garlic. Then stir in the chicken broth and potatoes. Once the potatoes are soft, add the kale. When that wilts, turn off the heat and stir in the evaporated milk.
Make sure not to bring the soup to a vigorous boil after you've added the milk as it can cause the milk to curdle.
While this soup could be considered a complete meal on its own, feel free to add a green salad if you'd like (bonus points if you use Olive Garden's Italian Dressing).
Lighter Zuppa Toscana Ingredients:
- Italian sausage: you can use either mild or hot Italian sausage for this recipe. If you want to cut down on fat (particularly saturated fat), try using turkey Italian sausage instead.
- Medium onion
- kosher salt: or this is a great recipe to use MSG-salt
- Black pepper
- Red pepper flakes: this is optional (omit or use less if you want your soup to be less spicy)
- Chicken stock: I find Better than Bouillon (use a reduced sodium version to cut back on sodium) to be the most convenient, but if you happen to have another type on hand, feel free to use that.
- Yukon gold potatoes: you can substitute russet potatoes if needed
- Small bunch kale: or use bagged pre-chopped kale (measure out 4 cups). Just make sure to remove any tough stem pieces if they are present.
- Canned evaporated milk
Want more creamy soup recipes?
Lighter Zuppa Toscana Nutrition Notes:
To cut down on the fat content of the soup, try using turkey Italian sausage. It can be harder to find, but available in many larger, well-stocked grocery stores.
To cut down on sodium, use a reduced-sodium chicken stock and/or reduce the amount of salt added to the recipe by half.
This recipe is gluten-free as written.
Lighter Zuppa Toscana Soup
- Dutch Oven or large saucepan
- 1 pound Italian sausage mild or hot, casings removed
- 1 medium onion minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt or this is a great recipe to use MSG-salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes Optional (omit or use less if you want it less spicy)
- 10 cloves garlic minced
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 pound yukon gold potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch-pieces
- 1 small bunch kale stems removed, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups)
- 1 can evaporated milk
- Heat a dutch oven or large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the Italian sausage and break it up with a wooden or silicone spoon. Cook until the sausage is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced onion, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 5 more minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Slowly stir in the 6 cups chicken stock, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the diced potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer (medium-low heat), and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chopped kale, and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the evaporated milk. Garnish with more red pepper flakes or black pepper if desired.