In my opinion, this is the easiest and most delicious copycat soup recipe ever. Zuppa Toscana is creamy, hearty and full of flavor, while being additionally inexpensive and easy to make. Our boys are not typically picky eaters, and they absolutely love this recipe! Samuel will have at least three bowls and Matthew will have one to two and Levi will have a second serving also. For an inexpensive recipe, this soup can stretch if you need, or make it vegetarian by completely omitting the meat. From start to finish it does take some time to cook in a Crock-Pot, but my total prep was only 15 minutes. On low it will be ready at dinnertime in 6 to 8-hours. If you love Olive Garden’s recipes, this one is a must-have and will additionally be a hit with your littles.
Published February 27, 2021
Updated March 7, 2022
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Mild Italian Sausage
I was able to find 16-ounce packaged ground Italian sausage when I went grocery shopping this week. Typically, I use ground pork sausages, or a mild brat, and was super excited to find this ground mild Italian sausage for sale. When I buy the sausage in the casing it is easy to use a knife to split the casing and tip out the sausage into a hot pan and cook up. However, this mild Italian sausage was just the right fit for this recipe today and paired so well with homemade pretzel rolls.
I also have absolutely LOVED buying kale precut and packaged. Bagged kale is available at my local ALDI and super reasonably priced, however my only tip is to make sure you remove any hard stems and rinse the kale well. The hard stems can be bitter and not taste the best, so make sure to leave at least thirty minutes to an hour for the kale to cook in the soup.
Cost to make Zuppa Toscana
4 Russet Potatoes $1.20
1 Onion $0.40
Heavy cream $1.55
Garlic clove $0.50
2-pounds Mild Italian Sausage $5.18
The total cost to make a Crock-Pot of Zuppa Toscana was $9.63 and was not bad for 15 minutes of actual work. As a result, this recipe serving cost $1.07 for the six of us to eat dinner at a total of 9 bowls, and we even have a ton of soup leftover for tomorrow.
For example, for us to buy this soup, per bowl at Olive Garden is $6.79. If we were to buy 9 bowls, because let’s be honest, that is how many bowls we ate tonight, it would have cost us $61.11 without a tip and just the soup. With eating only soup all of my guys would have left hungry, and we would have still needed to either buy more food or eat at home.
Additionally, I made pretzel rolls this morning and did a double batch which made a total of 16 buns. As a result, we had them for lunch, with dinner, the kids snacked on them through the day. Click the link below for my recipe for Homemade Pretzel Rolls. This recipe for pretzel rolls results in a soft and moist roll while not breaking the bank.
Please don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Olive Garden and am not ripping on them as a business. In fact, Olive Garden was Tyler and my first date in 2006 and is our favorite restaurant. However, we just cannot afford to go with 4 kids! The last time we went, it cost us an arm and a leg and then Tyler came home hungry. Living off of one income and 6 people does require me to be diligent about planning our weekly meals but being frugal does not mean you have to eat bologna sandwiches every day. We instead decide to splurge and make your favorite meal at home! Bust out the calculator to see how much money it would cost to go out, then how much it would cost to make it, and have some fun in the kitchen.
Zuppa Toscana Recipe
Ingredients for Zuppa Toscana
4 Russet potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
8 cups water
1 Tbsp chicken base or 2 bouillon cubes
4 cloves garlic
2 cups kale
2 pounds mild Italian sausage
Directions for Zuppa Toscana
1. Cut in half, peel and dice one onion, then set aside.
2. Heat a pan on medium heat and cook Italian sausage and onion until browned.
3. Place a few sheets of paper towel on a large plate and when sausage is fully cooked, then carefully scoop onto plate to drain.
4. Then pour heavy cream into a Crock-Pot.
5. Peel and mince garlic and then add to the Crock-Pot.
6. Add water to the Crock-Pot. If using chicken base, then use 6-8 cups water, however if you are using chicken stock use the same amount in place of water, omitting the chicken base or bullion. I have been using L.B. Jamison’s Soup Base lately and seriously love it. This brand has beef, chicken and ham flavored bases that can make soups, gravy and can then be used to season any meal.
7. In a sink colander, rinse then peel and dice the potatoes and then add to the Crock-Pot.
8. When sausage is drained, carefully scoop it into the Crock-Pot.
9. Turn temperature dial on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
10. With an hour left rinse in a sink colander and roughly chop kale, removing the hard stems, and then add it to the Crock-Pot. Finally, cover and cook an additional hour.
This over the sink colander is a kitchen tool used on a daily basis in our family’s kitchen. We use it for pasta, vegetables, holding potatoes before peeling, rinsing foods and more. Check out the prices on Amazon by clicking the link above as they often have sale prices. I love the fact that I can order something and have it delivered fast.
11. Serve with shredded parmesan cheese if desired.
Zuppa Toscana Soup Recipe
Zuppa Toscana Soup in a Crock-Pot
- Sink Colander
- Cutting board
- 4 Russet Potatoes
- 1 Onion
- 2 cups Heavy Cream
- 8 cups Water
- 1 Tbsp Chicken Soup Base
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 2 cups Kale
- 2 pounds Mild Italian Sausage
- On a cutting board, cut in half, peel and dice one onion, then set aside.
- Heat a pan on medium heat and cook 2 pounds Italian sausage and onion until browned, around 10 minutes.
- Place a few sheets of paper towel on a large plate and when sausage is fully cooked, carefully scoop onto plate to drain.
- Pour 2 cups heavy cream into a Crock-Pot.
- On a cutting board, peel and mince garlic and then add to the Crock-Pot.
- Add water or chicken stock to the Crock-Pot within 1-inch of the rim.
- If using water and chicken soup base, use 1 tsp soup base for each cup of water.
- In a sink colander, rinse the potatoes. Then peel and dice 4 russet potatoes and then add them to the Crock-Pot.
- When sausage is drained, carefully scoop into the Crock-Pot.
- Turn temperature dial on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
- With an hour left rinse and roughly chop kale, removing the hard stems, and then add it to the Crock-Pot.
- Cover and cook an additional hour to soften and cook the kale.
- Serve with shredded parmesan cheese if desired.
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