This crock pot zuppa toscana soup is an Olive Garden copycat recipe that makes it easy to bring the taste of Italy home. A simple dinner for busy weekdays!

This post contains affiliate links. Read the disclosure policy.

Side view of a large bowl filled with prepared zuppa toscana soup.

About Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana

Nothing beats a big bowl of comforting soup. Except for maybe being able to make one of your favorite restaurant soups from the comfort of your own home, in your most comfortable clothes, on those cloudy days you don’t want to leave the house.

Because that’s exactly what this slow cooker zuppa toscana soup can do: give you all the flavor of Olive Garden’s best soup without having to leave your house.

And better yet, this soup is made in a crockpot, so you can set it and forget it until it’s time to dig in and eat.

This soup is one of Homemade Hooplah’s most popular recipes, and for very good reason – it’s a copycat recipe that’s so spot-on that it’s almost better than the original!

What’s in zuppa toscana soup?

To enjoy your own hot bowl of zuppa toscana soup, you’ll need to collect the following ingredients:

  • Ground hot Italian sausage – Adds some protein with a delicious flavor. You can also use an equal portion of any flavor of sausage (or level of spiciness) or substitute this for other ground meats (beef, chicken, turkey, etc).
  • Yellow onion, garlic, salt, and black pepper – Common ingredients for hearty soups that add delicious flavor.
  • Russet potatoes – Because nothing is as comforting as soft potatoes in a soup. You can also substitute this for red or golden potatoes. Peeling the potatoes is also optional (especially for goldens!)
  • Chicken broth and heavy whipping cream – For creating a delicious, creamy broth for the soup. You can also substitute the chicken broth for an equal portion of more water or vegetable broth. Dairy substitutes, half and half cream, or omitting the heavy cream altogether can also be done.
  • Kale – A classic ingredient for this soup that adds some soft, leafy texture. This can also be substituted for an equal portion of spinach, collard greens, or mustard greens. One reader even recommended using endive. You can also omit the greenery entirely if you’d like.
  • Parmesan cheese – Totally optional but it gives this Italian soup a classic cheesy topping.

Do you have to use kale?

Since posting this recipe, one of the most common questions about this soup has been about the kale. Because, weirdly enough, kale has the reputation for not being very tasty. Oh so strange, I know.

So, as someone that is not normally a fan of kale myself but is a fan of this soup, I can confirm that kale can taste good – in the right circumstances. And the flavors in this soup go a long way in bringing out the very best qualities in kale, giving this soup a great veggie texture and an added nutritional bonus.

However, if all the positive vibes in the world couldn’t sell you on kale, many readers have substituted the kale for spinach and liked the results.

Close up view of a bowl filled with zuppa toscana soup, showing off the potato, sausage, and kale.

What else can you add?

Soups like this are very forgiving and are great for adding your own touch of flavor, such as:

  • Cooked and crumbled bacon.
  • Red pepper flakes.
  • Doubling the meat content (from one pound to two). You can use the same meat or even use different types.
  • Cannellini beans.

If you’ve made an addition to this soup that you enjoy, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

How can you thicken soup?

This soup is fairly brothy, but there are two easy methods for making it thicker:

  • Blend or mash a portion of the cooked potatoes within the soup.
  • Create a slurry. When adding the heavy cream, reserve two or three tablespoons of cream and whisk it with one tablespoon of cornstarch, then mix it in with the soup. The soup will progressively become thicker the longer it cooks.

How long is zuppa toscana good for?

Once prepared, this Italian soup can last in the refrigerator in a sealed container for three to four days.

Can you freeze zuppa toscana?

Yes, you totally can! Soups are great for freezing in individual-sized portions, too.

To freeze, allow the soup to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a sealable container or freezer bags.

Soup can be stored in the freezer for up to two to three months.

What to serve with Italian soup?

If you’re serving soup as the main course, you might be wondering what else to serve with it. And I totally get it; soups are one of those gray areas where it can be an appetizer, side, or main course, and each situation can call for different options.

In my house, we typically serve soup with:

  • Bread. Whether it’s plain toasted bread, a bread baked with cheese, or even some simple sandwich, anything with bread is bound to be a good complement to soup.
  • Salad. And when serving salad with soup, I try to pick a variation that has different (yet complimenting) ingredients to the soup. Leafy salads or hearty pasta salads are always a good fit.
  • Meat dishes with minimal seasonings. You don’t want the other recipe to totally steal the show, but a lightly flavored chicken or beef dish would go great with potato soup.

Notes & tips for this zuppa toscana crock pot recipe

  • You can make zuppa toscana soup in numerous ways, but the main staples are kale, heavy cream, and potato. I’ve seen soups that use both bacon and chicken, but I’ve always felt it works best with sausage (and Italian sausage at that).
  • This soup isn’t difficult to make on the stovetop, but I’ve always liked the convenience of a crock pot, and this Olive Garden zuppa toscana recipe is a perfect example of what a crock pot can do. I’m a big fan of this crock pot – it has three sizes in one!
  • And if you like Olive Garden copycat recipes, be sure to check out this one for Parmesan Baked Shrimp!
Close up side view of a spoon holding up a portion of zuppa toscana soup.

More tasty soups

How to make zuppa toscana soup

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Since this recipe is made in a crock pot, the instructions are very simple.

Step 1 – Cook the ground hot Italian sausage, garlic, and yellow onion in a large skillet (draining the grease from the skillet).

Step 2 – Add the cooked veggies & sausage, potato, seasonings, and chicken broth to your crock pot. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Step 3 – Add the kale and heavy cream to the crock pot, stir, then cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.

Step 4 – Serve and enjoy!

And that’s it! This recipe can also be made on the stovetop, but sometimes you need the extra freedom that a crock pot can provide on a busy weeknight. There’s nothing more comforting than a crock pot full of soup!

Recipe Details

Side view of a large bowl filled with prepared zuppa toscana soup.
4.37 from 11797 votes

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana

20 mins prep + 4 hrs cook
280 kcal
Yields: 8 servings
This crock pot zuppa toscana soup is an Olive Garden copycat recipe that makes it easy to bring the taste of Italy home. A simple dinner for busy weekdays!

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound ground hot Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 4 diced russet potato
  • 1 pinch salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper, to taste
  • water, see recipe instructions
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)

Instructions

  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble hot Italian sausage, about 5-8 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until some of the onion begins to turn translucent (no need to cook onion completely at this point). Drain grease from skillet.
    1 pound ground hot Italian sausage, 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic, 1 chopped yellow onion
  • In a crock pot, add cooked sausage & veggies plus the diced potato. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour chicken broth on top. There should be enough broth to cover the tops of the potatoes; if there isn't, add up to 2 cups water so potatoes are covered.
    4 diced russet potato, 1 pinch salt, 1 pinch black pepper, 4 cups chicken broth, water
  • Gently stir ingredients, cover crock pot, and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Remove lid from crock pot and add kale and heavy whipping cream, then stir to combine.
    1 bunch kale, 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for another 30 minutes.
  • Serve zuppa toscana immediately with shredded parmesan cheese as garnish.
    1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 867mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2021IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

Made this recipe?

Tag @homemadehooplah on Facebook or Instagram and hashtag it #homemadehooplah so I can see what you whipped up!

Explore more: Appetizers, Copycat, Crock Pot, Popular, Pork, Recipes, Sides, Soup, Veggies, Videos

As Featured In

  • Cover page of the Soups & Stews Volume 1 eBook.

    A purchasable collection of some of the best soup & stew recipes!

Leave a comment

Recipe Rating




367 comments

    • Jackie

    Do you think red potatoes could be used?

    • Jessica

    I added the kale when it says add the veggies… is that going to ruin the soap? I didn’t realize you had to add the kale with the cream at the end

    • Cookie Baptista

    Can I use Parks (Or Jones) SAGE ground Sausage since I don’t have Italian sausage? Also can I use Vegetable broth instead of Chicken broth? I’m also thinking about using Sweet Potato instead of white potato. Any input will be greatly appreciated.!

    • Kierstin

    I enjoy cooking bacon and breaking it into small pieces, as well as adding mushrooms! By far my favorite thing to eat especially during the cold months ❤️ I make it every other week, I haven’t made it a crock pot yet so I’m looking forward to that here soon

    • Marty

    Super easy, husband pleasing, super delicious!

    • Kathy
    • 4 stars

    I made this tonight for the first time. I don’t like all kinds of sausage, just some kinds. My husband LOVES zuppa toscana at the Olive Garden. He liked this. However, we both agreed the “Italian sausage hot links” (removed from the casings) that I used were way too hot for me and even for him. Next time, I’ll use a mild Italian sausage. As others recommended, I used small Yukon Gold potatoes, a 1.5 lb. bag of “Steamables” brand. They worked great, and I did not have to peel. I just diced them.

    • Varvara S

    My boyfriend is lactose intolerant and I really wanna make this! I read through all the comments and did not see a recommendation for what I can sub the heavy whipping cream for😭

      • Jennie

      I’m trying mine with Ripple dairy free cream

      • Mena

      My family can’t have bovine dairy- I add coconut cream instead of cream- this is my sons favorite soup.

      • Mary T

      I make this and leave out the cream all together… it is very good without it. I also use potatoes with skins and spinach instead of kale. It is my most request soup even without the cream

      • Loren

      Just make it without the heavy cream. I don’t care for milky soup and that’s how I’ll make it.

    • Katelynn P.
    • 5 stars

    I can’t believe how much this taste like Zuppa at Olive Garden! I wrote this one down in my recipe book. I look forward to using it again! So easy to make! I didn’t add any water to mine though, just chicken broth and it was still great. I wanted to get rid of the rest of it.

    • Nicole K
    • 5 stars

    We love this soup! It’s one of our go to recipes throughout the colder months. I swap out the potatoes for rutabaga which gives it a little sweeter flavor.

    Thanks!! ❤️

    • Jenna
    • 5 stars

    I made this for my parents, since it’s the only thing my Mom likes at Olive Garden, and they INHALED it! Neither are partial to kale though so I substituted it with spinach, and since that’s cooks so quickly I just added it and stirred it in just before I served it. Definitely making again!

    • Brenda Montoya
    • 5 stars

    I made this for dinner, And it was awesome. Easy to follow instructions. I’ll add it to my list of soups, it’s one of my favorites. I like the crock pot, I don’t have to stand over the stove. I added a tossed salad and French bread. My family liked it so much all bowls were empty, next time I’ll double the recipe and invite Friends over for Soup & Salad. Thank you for sharing the easy delicious soup recipe 🍲

    • Patrick
    • 5 stars

    Making this now for the second time. Last time i peeled the potatoes. This time I am leaving them on. In my opinion it is better than Olive Garden

    • Samantha Huffman
    • 5 stars

    I love this recipe, it’s a family favorite.

    • Jess

    How much water?

    • Carol Marie Homick

    What accounts for the 1788mg of sodium? That seems incredibly high! Or is that a typo?

      • Aubri

      The chicken broth, I’m guessing. Maybe switch it out for low sodium chicken broth?

    • Lisa

    I made this soup over Easter weekend. OMG!!!! This is the BEST soup I’ve ever had! I made it in a 6 qt crockpot per the written recipe except I used 2lbs of hot Italian Sausage instead of one. In my crockpot it took 5 hours to cook the potatoes (Yukon Gold unpeeled) and an additional 40 minutes on high to cook the kale. A total cook time of 5 hrs & 40 min. This soup is even better the next day and it freezes beautifully. Thank you, thank you for this amazing recipe!!!

    • Samantha

    I always use vegetable broth when I make this and it is AMAZING!

    • Katie
    • 5 stars

    Sooooo yummy sooo easy

    • Maureen C Germain

    If you want to make it keto substitute cauliflower (I use frozen cauliflower florets but you can use fresh as well) for the potatoes. I also use a combination of kale and spinach as it tastes so much better. You can also add 6-8 slices of bacon but I never add it. It does taste good, I just always forget that part

    • Dark Rose
    • 5 stars

    It looks so good but I’m curious as to what flavours should I use if I add beef mince as we don’t get Italian sausage mince here in Oz. Would the Italian seasoning herb blend be close? Thanks

      • Emma

      DARK ROSE, I suggest using pork sausage and adding a generous pinch of Italian seasoning and a pinch of crushed red pepper. I have done this in the past when I did not have the Italian sausage. Worked fine.