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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden 1

Is Zuppa Toscana a real Italian soup from Tuscany? Or an Olive Garden creation? I suspect the latter since Google turned up pages and pages of copycat recipes.

In any case, it's a simple soup that I've made many times through the years, but evidently not since January, when the last set of these photos were taken.

Not that I really needed to consult any of those recipes since there are so few ingredients: Italian sausage, potatoes, and kale in a lightly creamy broth. I've substituted the kale with collard greens sometimes with good results. I like red potatoes best for this, but ordinary russet potatoes are fine too. Replace the cream with milk if you want it to be less fatty. Heck, I've even substituted bratwurst for the Italian sausage. At the core, if you keep the basic ingredients of sausage, greens, and potatoes, this recipe is very adaptable to whatever you have on hand.

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden 2

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden

For a 2-quart pot, or about 4 servings, you'll need:
2 Italian sausages, removed from casings
2 large red or any other kind of potato, thinly sliced
2 cups kale or collard greens, roughly torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cream or milk

Optional: dried red chili flakes for topping

In a 5-quart stock pot on medium-high heat, remove the Italian sausages from their casings and saute in the pot, mashing the meat into smaller pieces as you go. When the meat is browned, add 2 quarts of water.

You can substitute with chicken broth if you'd like, but I've found the meat adds plenty of flavor on its own. Apparently, the Olive Garden uses bouillon cubes so you can do that too if you'd like.

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden 3

While the soup is cooking, thinly slice two large potatoes and add them to the pot.

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden 4

Let the potatoes simmer for about 15 minutes to soften.

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden 5

Meanwhile, wash the kale or collard greens and tear them into bite-sized pieces. When the potatoes have softened to your liking, taste the broth and add salt if necessary.

Then add the kale. Turn the heat down to medium-low before adding the cream or milk so it doesn't curdle. Let simmer for about 5 minutes to soften the kale and incorporate the cream with the soup.

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden 6

Zuppa Toscana made with kale.

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden 7

And Zuppa Toscana made with collard greens. I like to sprinkle a few red chili pepper flakes on top before serving.

Zuppa Toscana (Italian Tuscan Soup) alla Olive Garden 8


Other green soups:
Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup)
Aguadito-ish Vegetable Soup with Cilantro Puree
Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Broth)
Canh Bap Cai Bac Thao (Vietnamese Napa Cabbage Soup)
Canh Cai La Xanh (Vietnamese Collard Greens Soup
Canh Rau Cuu Ky (Vietnamese (Chinese) Boxthorn Soup)
Stinging Nettle Soup

1 year ago today, One Sunset - West Hollywood (Closed).
2 years ago today, Tri-Colored Roasted Carrots.
3 years ago today, Shanghainese food at Mei Long Village - San Gabriel.


  1. I love easy soups! This one sounds lovely and not too heavy for summer.

    As for your condiment question -- I'm not sure where she got the recipe. She's been making it for a couple of years now. It started out to be chili-centric since she's got this crazy chili plant with fruit the shape of fat C7 Christmas bulbs. But it's eased into a heavier concentration of lemon grass. Her family eats it with just about everything.

  2. I love this soup, and yes I did first have it at Olive Garden!!!! Whenever I make this soup it's a sure fir hit. I like to make it with chicken broth though.... Great now I'm craving this dish!!

  3. Nikki,
    If you want to lighten it further, you can always leave out the dairy.

    I think it's totally an Olive Garden invention like some of their other creations. Not that I'm complaining because I like Olive Garden. Not a food snob at all.

  4. "Not a food snob" - that is why I love your blog!!! If you figure out how to make Olive Garden breadsticks or Little Ceaser's Crazy Bread with Crazy Sauce I will love you forever!!!!

  5. KT,
    There are tons of copycat recipes out there. I haven't tried yet. I can do Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuits. Or rather, I add cheddar and chives to my regular biscuit recipe and think that tastes better. Chopped jalapenos in the biscuits are great too.


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