Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

When I was in college, I worked as a server at The Olive Garden. One of the staples of my diet while I was there was soup (the other was breadsticks!). One of the problems with working in a restaurant like that is you learn to like all sorts of dishes, but when you visit the restaurant as a “civillian,” you have to choose just one thing.

Luckily, now that I can make Zuppa Toscana and Pasta e Fagioli at home, I can at least remove the soup or salad choice from that dilemma!


I may have stolen that picture from the Olive Garden website, but I promise–mine was just like the real thing!

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana
Serves 4-6


  • 1 lb sweet bulk Italian sausage (or links, with the casings removed)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 4 quarts chicken stock (homemade or from a box; don’t substitute broth)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 6 c water
  • 1/4 tsp ground aniseed
  • 1 bunch kale, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 large russet potatoes, sliced
  • 1 large onion white, finely chopped


1. Bring chicken stock & water to a light boil & add potatoes.

2. In a large skillet cook bacon until somewhat done & remove from the pan. Crumble the bacon and reserve for later.

3. Sauté the onion in the bacon fat until the onions are a golden brown color. Add to boiling stock & potatoes.

4. In the same skillet add olive oil, garlic and crumbled Italian sausage. Cook over medium high heat until the sausage is cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. When sausage is cooked, add the contents of the skillet to the boiling stock & potatoes.

5. Continue to cook at a light boil until the potatoes are fork tender. When they are done reduce heat and add cream, crumbled bacon, kale, salt, anise, red pepper, black pepper. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, to allow the flavors to come together. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

Note: I made this as listed the first time I tried it, and it was good, but I found that we all picked around the kale, so I left that out the second time. That’s another reason to recreate restaurant favorites at home–I only have to add the parts I like!

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6 Responses to “Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana”

  1. Mom

    I knew you stole the picture. Ha ha

  2. Kristen

    This is my moms favorite soup at Olive Garden. I am sooo bookmarking this to make it for her soon!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  3. Teri

    She won’t be disappointed!

  4. Teri

    If this had really been my picture, it would’ve meant that I stole a place setting from the OG. And that would be really weird.

  5. Ysobel

    But not too weird, considering you worked there for so long you could’ve smuggled everything out over the years…

  6. Teri

    The only thing that ever got smuggled out was the green napkins we used to pick up plates, my car and my dorm were full of them, because I’d bring them home tucked into my apron!

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