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Tuesday Tutorial: Michelle’s Zuppa Toscana

Tuesday Tutorial: Michelle’s Zuppa Toscana

Olive Garden is one of our family’s favorite places to eat: there’s something for EVERYONE {even my most picky eater} and nobody leaves hungry!  {It doesn’t hurt that Courtney and I met while both working at the OG either!}  Between being a former  employee and a frequent customer I’m pretty familiar with the menu.  And my favorite soup is hands down their Zuppa Toscana: a creamy, slightly spicy  potato and sausage soup with kale.

 I admit from the get-go that I don’t know Olive Garden’s recipe.  But I think this is close.  And believe me, I’ve eaten enough Zuppa at the OG to know it well!   My husband is also a fan of Zuppa and he says that my recipe is as close as it gets to the real deal (just not as salty, which I do on purpose, and he “remedies” by pouring salt into his bowl at the table.)  He could be humoring me cuz he is a great guy and very loyal {which is why I married him.}  But he’s also  honest.  Either way…why don’t you make it and decide!


  • 2 quarts ham stock (or chicken stock if you don’t have ham)
  • 1-2 quarts water
  • 8-10 medium Russett potatoes (washed)
  • 1 lb  ground sausage (I like Jimmy Dean) or use your favorite Italian sausage
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3-4 large leaves/stalks of kale
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (about half a small onion)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 T butter
  • basil
  • oregano
  • 3-4 cloves garlic chopped (or garlic powder)
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Fill a large pot with the ham stock and water and set on high heat.  Quarter potatoes and slice them (leaving the skins on), and then add them to the pot of water and broth. 

Saute onion in butter and a little olive oil for 3-5 minutes on medium heat until translucent.  Add garlic to the onions and saute for one more minute, being careful not to let the garlic burn. 

Add sausage to the onion/garlic mixture.  If you used Italian sausage (which I typically don’t like if it has fennel seeds) you won’t need much of the basil and oregano maybe a pinch each.  If you’re like me and using regular sausage add 1-2 teaspoons each of basil and oregano to the sausage as it’s cooking to give it that yummy Italian flavor.  Also add about 1 teaspoon of the pepper flakes (more if you like it really spicy!)

Stir the spices and sausage together until meat is just barely cooked through. 

Add sausage mixture to the potatoes and broth and let them simmer together 10-20 minutes. 


Chop kale leaves and set them aside.  

 Add cream to the soup.  Like most soups, the longer it is allowed to simmer together the better it tastes, so simmer as long as you like! 

Add salt, pepper, and chopped kale just before serving. 


Now you just need the breadsticks!


(Crumbled bacon and grated parmesan cheese are yummy toppings too!) 

If you really want an Olive Garden salad to go with your soup you’ll have to pick up a bottle of their salad dressing at the restaurant.  I haven’t been able to duplicate that…yet!  😉

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