Bohemian Soupsody: Lighter Zuppa Toscana Inspired by the Olive Garden

Like Zuppa Toscana from the Olive GardenSoup #4 is a make-at-home version of Zuppa Toscana from the Olive Garden. We don’t go there often, but if we do I actually go for the soup, salad & breadsticks meal over every other dish. And that is mostly because of this soup. It is creamy and combines sweet Italian sausage, potatoes, and kale.

One drawback to this soup is that the health benefits of the kale are most likely negated by the high cream content and potatoes. I realize that my efforts to make this soup healthier are moot and that I’d be better served by just eating the kale and skipping the rest. 🙂 In any case, I still made the effort and was pleased with the results. It was wonderful.

I want to review my modifications before I get to the recipe. Feel free to adjust as needed. (The original recipe is found here at the Pioneer Woman blog). My modifications include:

Adjustment #1: Using turkey sausage instead of regular sausage.

Adjustment #2: Changing the dairy ratios. It’s a cream-based soup, which originally used 4 cups half-and-half, 2 cups whole milk, and a splash of heavy cream. I skipped the heavy cream and exchanged the measurements: 2 cups fat-free half-and-half and 4 cups 2% milk.

Adjustment #3: The original recipe didn’t address a cooking method for the onions. So I sauteed them after cooking the sausage.

I adored this big-batch soup and I hope your family will to.

Zuppa Toscana (Like the Olive Garden)

modified from the Pioneer Woman


  • 2 bunches kale, picked over, cleaned, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 12 whole red potatoes, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 pound Italian sausage (or sweet Italian turkey sausage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried (or 1 tsp fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half (I used fat-free)
  • Splash of heavy cream (I skipped this)
  • Parmesan for sprinkling


In a medium pot. boil sliced potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

While potatoes boil, prepare the kale. Pick over damaged portions and wash the kale. Remove the leafy part from the stem and tear into bite-sized pieces. Set it aside in a colander and to drain.

In a large pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage. Pour out and drain out as much as the fat as you can, set aside. Return the pot to medium heat and add olive oil and saute the onion. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, and black pepper. Stir for a few seconds until fragrant. Add broth and stir to scrape up browned bits from bottom of pot. Add sausage back to pot. Stir in the milk and half-and-half. Simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes.

Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in the kale and a splash of heavy cream, if using, then add the potatoes on top. (Don’t feel the need to stir in the potatoes since they are pre-cooked, it’s more important for the kale to be submerged). Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, then serve topped with parmesan and crusty bread.

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