Easy Zuppa Toscana

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A copycat of the famous Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup made in 20 minutes or less. via chelseasmessyapron.com

Easy Zuppa Toscana is a simplified version of the famous Olive Garden recipe – made in just 20 minutes or less.

Pair this delicious soup with a simple appetizer such as this Italian Bruschetta and a side salad, like this Italian Salad for the ultimate Italian-inspired meal.

 

Overhead image of Easy Zuppa Toscana in a bowl with a spoon in it.

Easy Zuppa Toscana

This 20-minute soup concept is borrowed from two other recipes I’ve shared in the past — Chicken Parmesan Soup and Chicken Tortilla Soup. Both soups are also ready in 20-minutes and have been wildly popular! And the most common question I get on those recipes — where are more QUICK and EASY soup recipes?!

So I’m here to deliver an Easy Zuppa Toscana — one that can be ready in 20-minutes as well. And this truly isn’t an exaggeration — from start to finish, you can have this on the table in 20 minutes with my short-cut tips and tricks.

I love a good Zuppa Toscana, but sometimes it can get a little involved and take a bit of time and effort to make. So with a few recipe short-cuts, you’ll have all the flavors in a fraction of the time.

Process shots-- images of the sausage being browned; the bacon being added and cooked; then the sausage and bacon being added to the soup pot.

Recipe Shortcuts

So how can Easy Zuppa Toscana be ready so quickly? A few tricks– starting with two pots. 

  • Use two pots. Yes, a little more clean-up is required, but it gets the soup on the table much quicker. A lot of Zuppa Toscana recipes use one pot, but you have to first brown bacon, remove that, then brown sausage, remove that, and then start on the rest of the veggies and soup base. We save time by cooking the potatoes in one pot while the other pot is browning the sausage AND crisping the bacon.
  • Use frozen potatoes. The biggest short-cut here is using plain frozen potatoes (southern style hash browns). Southern style hash browns are chopped, cubed potatoes without seasonings or other ingredients (like peppers or onions) added. See the quick tip below.
  • Buy pre-chopped produce. In order to have such a quick prep time, we rely on produce short-cuts. Get pre-diced onion from the produce section of your store or frozen diced onions. Next, we’ll use jarred minced garlic and finally, use a bag of already prepped (washed and chopped) kale. With these short-cuts, there is no chopping required!
  • Microwave bacon. While you can use uncooked bacon and still have this Easy Zuppa Toscana ready in 20-minutes, microwave bacon does save a couple of minutes and you’ll avoid some mess. If you’d prefer both of those outcomes, I recommend using pre-cooked bacon you just need to microwave.

QUICK TIP

If you aren’t a fan of frozen potatoes, you can of course use fresh russet potatoes. You’ll need about 1 and 1/2 pounds of potatoes. Very thinly slice the potatoes (⅛-inch thick) and use in place of the frozen potatoes. Boil in the stock until the potatoes are tender–though this will of course extend prep time to longer than 20 minutes. Alternatively, check out this Zuppa Toscana Soup recipe which uses fresh potatoes and cooks in a slow cooker.

Process shots-- images of all the ingredients being added to the pot and being mixed together.

Easy Zuppa Toscana Tips

  • Use robustly-flavored chicken stock or broth. The more flavor in the broth, the more flavor in the soup! We love Swanson’s® chicken stock (not sponsored) best in this Easy Zuppa Toscana.
  • Season to taste. With so many salty ingredients (bacon, sausage, broth/stock, and Parmesan cheese), you may not need much in the way of seasoning. Add salt and pepper very slowly, tasting frequently. If the soup does taste at all bland to you though, it may just need a pinch.
  • Adjust heat. Make this Easy Zuppa Toscana spicier with hot/spicy sausage and adding all the red pepper flakes (you can even add more to your individual bowl!). Alternatively, make this soup mild with mild/sweet sausage and reducing or omitting the red pepper flakes.
  • Add some Parmesan cheese on top for the perfect finishing touch. I recommend grating the Parmesan cheese with a microplane, which gives it a great texture and allows the cheese to melt beautifully into the soup.

Storage

  • I don’t recommend freezing this soup because of the dairy in it (heavy cream). The milk solids will separate as the soup thaws, resulting in a grainy texture with a lot of separation. Additionally, the hash browns don’t freeze and thaw very well; they become overly mushy.
  • To reheat leftovers: Add this Easy Zuppa Toscana to a pot and slowly increase the heat while stirring frequently. Don’t boil the soup or reheat it at a high temperature; this will likely cause the ingredients to separate.

Up-close overhead image of Easy Zuppa Toscana.

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Easy Zuppa Toscana

5 from 6 votes
Easy Zuppa Toscana is a simplified version of the famous Olive Garden recipe - made in just 20 minutes or less.
Print Recipe

Easy Zuppa Toscana

5 from 6 votes
Easy Zuppa Toscana is a simplified version of the famous Olive Garden recipe - made in just 20 minutes or less.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Easy Zuppa Toscana
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 420kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $6.89

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 cup pre-diced yellow onion*
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound Italian sausage fresh, not smoked
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package (32 ounces) frozen diced hashbrowns (just plain potatoes, no added ingredients)
  • 2 containers (32 ounces EACH) chicken stock
  • 5 slices bacon (See Note 1)
  • 1-2 cups pre-chopped packaged kale
  • 1 and 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Optional: freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • PREP: Set a large stockpot and a large skillet on the stove top.
  • POT: Starting with the stockpot, heat over medium-high heat and add in 1 tablespoon olive oil, the pre-chopped onion, and minced garlic. Saute, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Increase heat to high, add in the diced hash browns and give them a quick stir (1 minute). Pour in all of the broth. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, cook just until the hash browns are fork tender (~3-5 minutes; basically as soon as your sausage is browned and bacon is crispy!). Once hash browns are tender, remove the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • SKILLET: Meanwhile, in the large skillet, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, the sausage, red pepper flakes, fennel, salt and pepper (to taste; I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper) over medium heat. Begin to brown the sausage and break it up (~4 minutes). Before it's cooked through, press the sausage to one side of the skillet and add the bacon slices (See Note 1) to the other side of the skillet. Continue to cook and break up the sausage until no longer pink and flip the bacon as needed.
  • BACON: Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined-plate. Coarsely chop or crumble the bacon.
  • FINISHING: Drain the sausage and add to the stockpot, along with the kale and heavy cream. Stir to combine. Add in half the bacon. Taste and adjust seasonings to preference (more red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, etc.).
  • SERVE: Ladle out soup and serve individual bowls topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and remaining bacon. Enjoy!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Alternatively, use pre-cooked bacon (microwaveable). Microwave the bacon and then coarsely chop. This saves some mess and a few minutes of prep time.
*The 20-minute prep time is dependent upon buying and using the listed ingredients -- prepared onions and pre-minced garlic, the frozen hashbrowns, and pre-shredded kale (grocery stores generally have a large bag of pre-shredded kale for super cheap).

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 420kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 526mg | Potassium: 269mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1420IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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17 Comments

  1. Hi Chelsea. This Tuscana soup looks delicious! I tried pinning this recipe and it brings up a picture of one pan sausage, broccoli, Parmesan past. It was also in the link of my email. I was wondering if you needed to know?….

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know Alison!! I figured out what happened and fixed it; I appreciate the heads up!

  2. 5 stars
    This is delicious! I used some extra fresh potatoes in addition to the hash browns so it wasn’t 20 minutes. But I would make this again no matter how long it takes.

  3. 5 stars
    This was so good I have made it twice in the past 7 days!!! Crowns or tater tots work instead of the has browns too!! YUMMY!!!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this without the bacon and with turkey sausage (because of food sensitivities in my house) and it turned out really delicious! The flavors are great and it’s super comforting. Definitely making it again!

  5. 5 stars
    This is SO GOOD!! We used a little more kale (85g), and I used spicy italian sausage so omitted the red pepper flakes. Using the frozen hash browns is such a genius shortcut. Thanks for a great recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    Chelsea: This soup was amazing! Family loved it. Keep posting your recipes, I have made 5 of them and every one of them was terrific. Already planning my next one!

    1. This seriously made my day! Thanks so much for your comment and I’m so glad you guys enjoyed! 🙂

  7. I want to make this, but I have a sensitivity to heavy cream, I still want it to taste great though, any suggestions on what I can use instead of heavy cream? Thank you!

  8. I have been using this recipe for YEARS! It is one of my favourites to make on a rainy fall day, and it leaves me with lots of leftovers for the week. Thank you for sharing!!

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