Spicy Zuppa Toscana is a thick, creamy soup with browned sausage and bacon, kale, potatoes, and a hefty spice palette. Serve this Tuscan soup as your main course with a side of crusty bread for an authentic Italian lunch or dinner!
Fans of Italian cooking are familiar with the undeniably rich Zuppa Toscana. This Tuscan soup is a medley of leafy greens, sausage and bacon, potatoes, and a characteristically Italian profile of sauteed onion and garlic. See the video below to watch how I make this.
Zuppa Toscana is hearty to its core: chunks of potatoes, savory bacon, spicy sausage, and robust kale are easily scooped into each spoonful of creamy broth. With an additional protein value added by the white kidney beans, this is not a light, appetizer-like soup. It will absolutely fill you up and leave you satisfied!
This is a popular menu item at a certain popular Italian-American restaurant chain. Soft Italian bread that’s been quickly baked for a golden brown crust and a side of Mediterranean salad can help to recreate that sit-down experience.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Italian Sausage – Hot sausage is the classic choice, but mild or sweet are fine to use for those with a lower spice tolerance. Other types of sausage can be used as well, including chicken and turkey.
- Bacon – Avoid using pre-made, pre-chopped bacon as we use the drippings to bolster the flavor of the soup overall. As a result, it should not be omitted if at all possible.
- Chicken Stock – Vegetable broth is the best alternative.
- Russet Potatoes – Yukon Gold is the best substitute potato for Tuscan soup.
- Red Pepper Flakes – These can be omitted to lower the spice level. Cayenne or chili powder are two potential substitutes but will alter the color profile of the soup.
- Cannellini Beans – Colloquially known as white kidney beans. Great northern beans or red kidney beans can both be used in their place if necessary.
- Kale – This leafy green is bursting with nutritional value. Spinach is a good substitute but does not have the same earthy flavor or the same body.
- Heavy Cream – Half and half can also be used. If you want the same creamy thickness without the fat content, stir in a cornstarch slurry to thicken it.
HOW TO MAKE ZUPPA TOSCANA
1. Chop the Potatoes. Clean, peel, and chop the potatoes into rough bite-sized pieces.
2. Cook the Sausage. Add the sausage to a large Dutch oven and brown on medium heat. Set the sausage aside once browned.
3. Fry the Bacon. Chop the bacon into 1-inch pieces and add to the pot. Fry until crispy and then transfer the cooked bacon to a plate.
4. Saute the Aromatics. Add the chopped onion to the pot with the bacon drippings and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute while stirring.
5. Build the Base. Pour the chicken broth and water into the pot. Add the potatoes and red pepper flakes. Mix together and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, letting the broth cook down for 15 minutes.
6. Add Remaining Ingredients. Add the drained cannellini beans, browned sausage, and chopped kale to the pot. Stir, keep uncovered, and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add half of the bacon and the heavy cream while continuously stirring. Heat for another minute or two before seasoning to taste.
7. Spoon & Serve. Portion into bowls, sprinkle the remaining bacon and some parmesan over each, and serve!
What does Zuppa Toscana mean in Italian?
It’s nothing too exciting, unfortunately — it literally translates to “Tuscan soup.”
However, that is not what it’s called in Italy. Instead, Italians refer to it as minestra di pane, or “bread soup.” That’s because this recipe was traditionally made with stale bread and a heap of vegetables. Truly a poor man’s soup, it was meant to use up ingredients in a filling, delicious way.
Is Zuppa Toscana spicy?
Though not overwhelmingly spicy, the crushed red peppers and spicy Italian sausage do give it a distinct heat. If you desire a less spicy soup, then the red pepper flakes can be omitted and the spicy sausage replaced with mild or sweet sausage.
How long does leftover Zuppa Toscana last in the fridge?
Leftover Zuppa Toscana can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days before the meats in the soup are at risk of spoiling. Certain ingredients in the soup, such as the potatoes and kale, may begin to deteriorate before then and alter the overall texture.
Reheat slowly on the stovetop so as not to overly disturb the cream in the broth. And, due to the cream content of the soup’s base, I would not recommend freezing it.
- 1 lb hot Italian sausage
- 8 slices bacon
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups water
- 2 large russet potatoes peeled and cubed (or Yukon Gold)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 15 oz cannellini beans drained
- 4 cups chopped kale stems removed
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream or Half and Half
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- Peel and cube the potatoes into bite size pieces. Set aside.
- Brown sausage in a large soup pot or dutch oven. No oil or butter needed. Set aside when done.
- Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces. Add bacon to pot and cook until crispy. Remove bacon and set aside, leave bacon drippings in pot.
- Stir in onion and sauté for 5 minutes then add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Add chicken broth, water, potatoes and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat to simmer and cook 15 minute
- Add the beans, cooked sausage and kale to the soup. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered. Stir in half of the the cooked bacon and heavy cream, heat through for a minute or two. Season to taste.
- Ladle into bowls and serve with remaining bacon and grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.