Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana
For as long as I have known him, Zuppa Toscana Soup from Olive Garden has been Nick’s FAVORITE soup. Since I’m allergic to onions, I’ve never had it. He has always begged me to try and make this at home, but it felt like too big of a challenge to me. For one, I wasn’t sure how would I ever get it just right, and for two, once I did get it right, he’d hound me to make it ALL.THE.TIME. When the kids were little, it was easier just to pop in and get him an order to go when he wanted some. Once the kids got older and tried it, they too loved it. The problem is, they LOVE IT, and a small to go order isn’t enough for them. They want at least 2 orders each. At this point, it became too expensive to get it take out, and have enough to fill them up. So, I took on the challenge. I did some research and found many copycat recipes online, but they didn’t think any of them really got it just right. So I had to play around with the recipe ingredients until I found the right combination that they actually like MORE than what they get from Olive Garden. I call it copycat, because I was trying to copy the restaurant version, even though it may not taste exactly like what they serve. I hope you’ll give it a try, and let me know what your family thinks!
Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausage
This post is NOT sponsored or endorsed. I feel like it’s important to point that out, before I tell you that this seems to be a key ingredient in this recipe. The first few times I made it, I used the Sausage Links. There are several varieties, and the Fresh Italian SWEET Sausage seemed to be the right flavor. I was cooking it, then dicing it, before putting it in the soup, but the guys kept saying it just wasn’t right. Even though what they get from the restaurant had diced chunks of sausage, something was off. One day our local supermarket began to carry the All Natural Fresh Italian Sweet GROUND Sausage, so I tried that. I just browned it in the Dutch Oven with some Olive Oil (just like I would ground beef), and they went nuts over it. That seemed to be the magic trick that really made this recipe perfect for my crew. You can always try any of the Italian Sausage flavors to see what you prefer, but I’ll be referencing the Sweet Ground Sausage in the recipe, because it made such a difference to my crew.
This can be made on the stove or in the crockpot. I have made it both ways. My crew prefers it stovetop, in the Dutch Oven, but if we aren’t going to be home (sports, clubs, etc), then I’ll go ahead and leave it in the crockpot all day. I haven’t attempted to make the breadsticks recipe just yet, so I normally serve this with THESE BREADSTICKS or visit your local bakery and pick up a few Italian Bread bowls, and serve the soup inside one of those!
- 1 pound Johnsonville All Natural Fresh Italian Sweet GROUND Sausage
- 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 32 oz. chicken stock
- ½ bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pour Olive Oil into Dutch Oven over Medium Heat
- Add in the Ground Sausage and brown, until it’s cooked through
- Drain any excess grease. Add the garlic, onions & potatoes, and stir to combine.
- Pour in the chicken stock, and cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about an hour, or until the potatoes are soft.
- Whisk together the heavy cream and flour until well combined. (It may be lumpy but the lumps disappear once mixed into the soup!)
- Pour the flour mixture and add the kale into the soup and increase heat to medium high, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until the soup has thickened slightly.
- Season according to your taste (a pinch of pepper flakes are delicious in there), and serve.
Crock Pot Heating Instructions
- Follow same steps as above, however instead of simmering the soup for an hour, cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4.
- Once the flour mixture and kale is added, heat on HIGH for another 30 minutes.
These are a few items I find helpful in my own kitchen, when preparing my Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipe:
Food Network 5 1/2 Quart Enamel Cast Iron Dutch OvenHamilton Beach 33473 Programmable Slow Cooker, 7-Quart, SilverOXO Good Grips Y Peeler1Easylife 18/8 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons, Set of 6 for Measuring Dry and Liquid IngredientsSwanson Natural Goodness Chicken Broth, 32 ozKOVOT Set of 4 Speckled Ceramic Soup Bowls With Spoons – 22-Ounces Each