In spite of its name this Vegetarian Zuppa Toscana soup recipe is not a classic Italian soup, instead it is a favorite American creation. A rich and creamy potato soup with a fennel base, crumbled Italian sausage, potatoes and lots of green kale to brighten things up.
Vegetarian Zuppa Toscana Soup
The most popular soup from the Olive Garden restaurant chain and simply translates as Tuscan soup. I had absolutely no intent to publish this soup recipe unless it was better than the original but also healthier without sacrificing any flavor at all. It’s gotten countless 5 star reviews so far and my most requested recipe by family and friends for all the holidays and family dinners. 1 Pot, hearty, savory, gluten free, dairy free vegan and easy to make. Simply the best!
Zuppa Toscana Ingredient Notes
- Aromatics – the usual suspects here are onion, garlic, a pinch of fennel seeds, thyme and some bay. I love adding a little nutritional yeast too, it’s like a parmesan rind but actually nutritious and good for you. There’s honestly so much flavor here that you could totally use water instead of veggie broth.
- Italian sausage – avoid all that cholesterol and go clean with a vegetarian plant based Italian sausage like Beyond Meat. The flavor is absolutely perfect, just a little spicy so you might want to add a pinch of chili flakes for extra heat. To keep it nice and crispy it’s important to reserve the crumbled sausage after browning and add it back into the soup when serving. Don’t cook it with the potatoes and cream as it will become soggy.
- Potatoes – thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes work best here. Their thin skins avoid the need for peeling and the waxy texture holds up nice during the cooking process. Red skinned potatoes or baby fingerlings cut in half lengthwise are a nice alternative if you’d prefer to use those.
- Cream – homemade “fatto in casa” as Italians say, i made a pure vegetarian cream that is dairy free without any cholesterol (and no phlegm to clear from your throat later). One cup of raw cashews blended with a cup of water in a powerful blender until silky smooth and you are done. It’s absolutely the best most luscious cream; however if you don’t want to bother go ahead and use your favorite store bought brand instead (you’ll need about 2 cups) but this is better.
- White wine – it’s not much but sure adds that special something to the zuppa. You can certainly replace it with veggie stock if you must but it tastes better with the wine.
- Kale – if you are not sold on this healthy dark leafy green yet I strongly suggest you opt for baby kale here. Unlike mature Tuscan Lacinato kale, the baby kale is tender and mild and wilts super fast just like spinach.
Recipe Tips + FAQ
- Is this Zuppa Toscana recipe healthy? – I created this recipe specifically without meat as a healthier alternative to the fat and cholesterol loaded original so you can feel confident about making a better choice for your health without sacrificing flavor and comfort.
- Is the soup spicy? – not really unless of course you want to up the red chili flakes as i like to do, because everything is better with a little attitude.
- Can i use spinach instead of kale? You sure can, go for tender baby spinach and add it in the last minute of cooking, remove from heat as soon as it has wilted.
- Potato swaps – you could entirely ditch them for cauliflower florets but in all honesty it won’t be quite the same thing. Italian homemade gnocchi are a way nicer alternative.
- Storage – the soup leftovers keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Since it’s a dairy free recipe you can even freeze this Zuppa with great results, i just don’t recommend freezing the browned sausage. It’s best to pan sear a fresh link to go with your leftovers whenever you reheat them.
how to make vegan + vegetarian Zuppa Toscana
Vegetarian Zuppa Toscana Soup
Creamy Vegetarian Zuppa Toscana soup recipe with crispy beyond Italian sausage and kale. A favorite American creation, the most popular copycat soup from the Olive Garden restaurant. It simply translates as "Tuscan soup" and not an authentic Italian soup like a ribollita is.Print Recipe
- 3-4 links Beyond Italian Sausage sliced
- 2 lb yukon gold potatoes sliced into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 7 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 1 leaf bay
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp red chili flakes or to taste
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 4 cups Lacinato kale baby kale, spinach or broccoli
- sea salt to taste
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup filtered water
Make the Cashew Cream
- Add the raw cashews and water to a powerful blender and process until creamy smooth. If your blender isn't that powerful make sure to soak the cashews in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain then blend with one cup of filtered water until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until needed.
- Preheat a heavy bottom pot over medium flame. Add the olive oil and Italian sausage and pan sear for a few minutes until golden brown. Transfer the crispy sausage to a bowl and keep warm.
- Add the onion and red chili flakes to the sausage drippings and cook a few minutes until translucent. Stir in the fennel and garlic, cook until you can smell its fragrance then pour in the white wine to deglaze.
- Use a flat wooden spoon and scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan until the wine has evaporated.
- Add the sliced potatoes, thyme, bay leaf and smoked paprika then pour in the veggie stock. Bring to a simmer, add the nutritional yeast and a pinch of sea salt. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes until the potatoes have softened but still hold their shape. Check after 5 minutes and keep a close eye on them.
- A couple of minutes before the potatoes are ready add the chopped kale. Give everything a good stir then mix in the cashew cream. Simmer another minute or so until the kale has wilted and the soup is creamy.
- Add the cooked Beyond sausage back into the soup, adjust seasonings and serve hot with freshly cracked black pepper on top.
Instant Pot Method
- Set your Instant Pot to the high sauté setting. Add the olive oil and Beyond sausage slices and sautee a few minutes until golden brown. Add the onion and red chili flakes and continue cooking until the onion is translucent. Pour in the white wine and scrape all the little brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine has evaporated.
- Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and smoked paprika. Add the sliced potatoes, veggie stock and nutritional yeast.
- Select manual setting, adjust pressure to high and set time for 4 minutes. Once finished cooking quick-release pressure according to the Instant Pot manufacturer’s instructions.
- Stir in the cashew cream together with the kale. Cook one or two minutes until the kale has wilted. Adjusting seasonings to taste with sea salt and black pepper and serve.
- To make this soup lower in calorie you can use a mix of golden potatoes and cauliflower florets.
- If you prefer your soup extra thicker you can mix 1 tablespoon of tapioca with the cashew cream or whatever plant based milk you decide to use here.
- An authentic Tuscan soup is traditionally made with cannellini beans, carrot, celery + day old bread. There's also a red version of the soup that features tomatoes alongside zucchini or potatoes.
Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 1407mg | Potassium: 1023mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2291IU | Vitamin C: 50mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 13mg
Servings: 6 people
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