This copycat recipe of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana is made better only by the Instant Pot. Instant Pot soup recipes like this one make a warm, flavorful meal quick and easy on any weeknight.
The story behind this copycat version of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana
For as far back as I can remember, my mom has been making this soup. I used to get it confused with German Wedding Soup but eventually put two and two together that what my mom was creating was a delicious replica of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana. Now, mind you this was before the time of internet and dial-up was coming into the picture. So it was certainly an original. Over the years this has become a huge comfort-food to me. Any time I’m sick or just down in the dumps, a hearty bowl of Zuppa Toscana brings the memories of my mother cooking in the kitchen flooding back. I’m not sure if it’s the actual food that brings comfort or reliving the days of watching her work. I’m sure it’s a mixture of both. But just thinking about this soup is giving me a longing and heart palpitations – so clearly there is a strong connection to this food.
Do you have a family food or comfort food that brings you back and awakens your memories? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section or shoot me an email. Perhaps I’ll recreate that dish of nostalgia for the blog and tag you in it!
The Ingredients needed for this version of Zuppa Toscana
- Bacon – I love bacon on my Zuppa Toscana but it really is just a garnish and totally optional. If you are not going to cook the bacon and use the grease from it to cook the vegetables than you are going to want to use butter or oil as a substitute.
- Garlic – While you could use dried or powdered garlic, there is just something so much… better, about using minced garlic that has been sitting in its own juices for a while. I even prefer it over fresh garlic for this application.
- Onions – We used two yellow onions. You could also use white. White onions give a bit of a sweeter taste to the dish and you would only need one. I really enjoy the pungent flavor and aroma the yellow onions give this dish.
- Ground Pork – Just a pound will do but if you like the ratio of potatoes to pork a bit more on the equal side, opt for 2lbs. We actually used plain ground pork from our half pig we purchased this year and created our own seasoning but you could certainly use Italian sausage. Just be aware that the amount of spices will not carry over when substituting for a flavored pork.
- Optional herbs – Though not pictured in the video, you could add fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary to give the soup a soft, earthy, well-rounded flavor profile. Though it’s dang good even without them. I would suggest adding the fresh herbs in the same step as adding the potatoes.
- Broth – I used Swanson’s Parmesan Chicken Broth because it’s what we had on hand. I was going to use regular chicken broth but knew the Parmesan Chicken Broth would add a bit more cheesy flavor (and salt) to the dish. Though only one carton is pictured in the video, both cartons were used in the making of this soup.
- Potatoes – Here I used locally grown russet potatoes. You could also use Yukon Gold potatoes. Whatever potatoes you decide to use, be sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces, but not too small to turn into mush during the cooking process. These were the exact potatoes I used as well. Keeping in mind that potatoes come in all shapes and sizes, aim for approximately 5 of them.
- Parmesan Cheese – Adding Parmesan Cheese to the base as well as an extra topping with the bacon, gives a bit more salt flavor to the dish and a chance for the cheese flavor to be fully incorporated.
- Heavy Whipping Cream – This gives just enough of a creamy base to create a smooth texture, perfect for dunking breadsticks.
- Kale – I used a whole bunch that came from the store. I love my soup full of healthy greens. We’re talking 5 stalks at least. Remove the leaves from the stems of the kale, give it a rough chop and add at the end. They will wilt a bit in the cooking process.
Spices used in this Zuppa Toscana
If after the soup has come together, it seems to be lacking in flavor according to your taste, increase the Red Pepper Flakes, Black Pepper, and Salt in 1/2 teaspoon increments. Want the soup a bit thicker? Use corn starch or xantham gum. Mix 1 tsp to 3/4 cup broth in a separate bowl and add back into the soup.
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Black Pepper
- Dried Parsley
Other soups and stews you may love based on this recipe
Leftover Turkey Wild Rice Soup
Baked Potato Soup
Habanero Spicy Chicken Soup with Black Beans
Slow Cooker Vegetable Barley Soup
Slow Cooker Soup Beans & Ham
Southwest Chicken Quinoa Soup
Creamy Potato & Ham Soup
Chicken Pot Pie Noodle Soup
Bacon White Chicken Chili
Copycat Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana
Stovetop Taco Soup
Creamy Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana
- 6 strips Bacon
- 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
- 2 Yellow Onions
- 1 lb Ground Pork plain - if using italian sausage the spices will need to be adjusted
- 2 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 tsp Ground Pepper
- 1/2 tbsp Dried Oregano
- 1 tbsp Dried Parsley
- 8 cups Parmesan Chicken Broth chicken or vegetable broth works too
- 5 Potatoes diced
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 5 stems Kale
- 1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 2 tsp Salt optional (add last)
- Chop bacon into bite-sized pieces.
- Turn the Instant Pot to Saute mode for 20 minutes. on medium or high. Once hot, add the bacon to the Instant Pot to fry. Remove the bacon to a paper towel once done. Leaving the majority of the bacon grease.
- Immediately add garlic and chopped onion to the Instant Pot and saute until onions are soft, approximately five minutes.
- Add ground pork or sausage and cook through.
- Add red pepper flakes, black pepper, parsley, and oregano. Stir once.
- Add broth (the equivalent of two Swanson box broths) to the sausage and diced potatoes.
- Cover and set to manual for 10 minutes on high. Once done, release pressure using the quick release method.
- While pot is cooking, de-stem kale and roughly chop leaves.
- Add heavy whipping, kale leaves, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until combined. Taste test and add salt if needed.
- Serve and garnish with bacon.