Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden)

Okay, I'll admit it... one of my guilty pleasures is dining at Olive Garden, especially during their annual 'Never Ending Pasta Bowl' special. I'll also admit that I ate at Olive Garden three times in four days. Judge if you must but Olive Garden is one of those restaurants that has some meaning to me. Growing up in the suburbs, chain restaurants were plentiful and often times my family and friends we would celebrate events with a dinner out. Many of those celebrations ended up at Olive Garden.

For me, it's kind of a comfort thing I guess. The complimentary soup or salad (I usually order salad), their breadsticks (which I find too filling and too salty) and their mediocre pasta. Sure, I could easily whip up a much better pasta dish at home, but it's a night out friends and family enjoy together where no one has to worry about cooking or cleaning. With that said, my husband is particularly fond of Olive Garden's 'Zuppa Toscana' soup. While I order the house salad, he orders this soup and every single time he orders it, he looks across the table at me and asks, "Why don't you ever make this at home? Like really make it... just like it tastes here?" I look back at him, roll my eyes and sigh.

I've attempted making my own spin of Zuppa Toscana a couple years ago. He thought it was good, but it wasn't 'exactly like Olive Garden's.' So in an effort to appease my husband, here is a much closer attempt of the soup and it's been given my husband's seal of approval. Finally.

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana
inspired by Olive Garden Restaurant

6-8 cups homemade chicken broth
1 lb italian sausage, removed from casings
2 baking potatoes, scrubbed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh kale
1/4 cup half & half

In a large dutch oven over high heat, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

While the broth is coming up to a boil, prepare the potatoes by slicing in half lengthwise and then cutting each half into 1/2 inch slices with the skin on. Set aside.

With the italian sausage removed from the casings (or you could use bulk italian sausage too), crumble the sausage into the hot broth.

Add the potatoes to the pot, season with spices and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

As the potatoes soften, prepare the kale by cutting away the tough core and stem. Slice the leafy greens into slices and place in a bowl.

Once the potatoes have softened up, remove from heat or turn the heat off. Stir in the kale and half & half. (The heat of the soup will cook the kale without turning it brown.)

Serve hot.


  1. I've never had that soup, but it does look really good!

  2. I worked at the OG for YEARS in college... loved that job!

    And I probably ate my weight in soup while I was there. Most of it being this very one :) Thanks so much for the recipe (and the trot down memory lane).

  3. Olive Garden>[email protected]#&*^$~! You're so much better than that!! No just kidding - if you enjoy then go for it. But I do think you could definitely make better food at home with no question so it's a compliment. Your soup looks delicious nonetheless. And as long as you only do the endless pasta bowl a few times a year I guess you're ok :) LOL.

  4. I've never had this but it looks really good!

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Joelen :) This soup looks really yummy and comforting! It's getting a star in GR.

  6. Joelen, I was just thinking to make this the other day!! I stumbled upon this recipe a couple of yrs ago and we make this almost every week in the winter. GREAT with crusty french baquette!

  7. Out of the chain restaurants Olive Garden is at the top of my list too. This used to be my favorite soup there until they came out with the Chicken and Gnocchi. I will definitely hold on to this recipe and give it a shot sometime.

  8. I always order this at OG. I will be making this soon.

  9. I love zuppa toscana! But I hear you on the pasta. It's so-so. I think there might be butter in this soup too... but I could be wrong. :-) Thanks for the recipe! I'll have to try it out.

  10. Yaaaaaayyyyy! Any weekday my husband and I both have off, we always try to get to Olive Garden for endless soup, salad and breadsticks, and Zuppa Toscana is our all-time favorite. This is going into next week's meal plan (with better breadsticks too)!

  11. Looks sooo yummy. Time to start starring soup recipes!

  12. I love this soup, too! Can't wait to try it at home.

    But I have to agree with you, I don't get the allure of those bread sticks - WAY too salty!

  13. Hi, Joelen! Just stumbled upon your blog - love the writing and the pics!

    I have to admit...those endless bread sticks used to be my guilty pleasure.

  14. What a great comfort meal for this fall. The weather here has been a tad cold, this would be perfect for dinner!

  15. This looks like good comfort food. I think Food Network Magazine recently did the copy cat recipe for their breadsticks and/or salad dressing. If you made those you could have the complete meal at home!

  16. This looks fabulous! I'll be bringing my soup Sundays back soon and this may have to be the first one I make!

  17. We love this soup!! I think I like my home version better at this point! LOL

  18. No judgement here! I love Olive Garden and the Zuppa Toscana is my favorite soup!