Homemade Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup: Crockpot recipe

Amazingly easy to make with few ingredients!

So I have been a tad obsessed with Pinterest lately. Maybe it’s my lack of creativity when it comes to things to do with my toddler or maybe I am just sick of my old stand by recipes when it comes time for weekly menu planning. Either way I rely on Pinterest A LOT! In fact this past week my entire menu, including snack ideas, came from Pinterest. Now, not everything I try is spectacular and I have certainly had my share of fails but sometimes you find a recipe that you just hit right out of the park. You’re family goes nuts over how amazing the dish is and you know this recipe will become part of your repertoire.  That is what happened to me last night.

A little background, I worked as a server for Olive Garden for almost five years and still LOVE the restaurant today. One of my favorite soups they make is their Zuppa Toscana. I knew they used cream to get the base but I never would have guessed how easy it was to make! That was until I found a pin for a crockpot recipe of this yummy soup. Just to be fair click here for the recipe I followed, but I have tweaked mine a bit and gave more detail than the original.

Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana

Makes about 8 servings


  • 5 1/2 cups chicken broth (or 3 cans)
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2-4 cups chopped kale
  • 2-3 potatoes sliced thin and quartered
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 2-3 shakes of red pepper flakes (or more if you like more of a kick)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Combine the chicken broth and heavy whipping cream in the crockpot.

Chop up kale into bite size pieces or, if you are like me, buy a bag of pre washed and chopped kale! I didn’t really measure it but grabbed about 3 large handfuls. I would certainly suggest grabbing more than you think you need as it cooks down A LOT. I almost filled my crockpot to the top with kale and still felt I could have added more. Wash and cut up the potatoes with the skin on. I used 3 large potatoes and felt the soup ended up being too potato heavy. I would suggest 2 large or 3 small baking potatoes. Add both potatoes and kale to crockpot.

Brown the sausage and break apart into small chunks. Season with a touch of salt and pepper then add to crockpot.

Mix all ingredients together and add more salt and pepper for taste as well as a few shakes of red pepper flakes. I don’t like things spicy but I didn’t feel this made it spicy at all. It just gave it a much needed kick to cut the heaviness of the cream base.

Set your crockpot on high for 3-4 hours until the potatoes break apart easily with a fork.


note: This recipe also freezes well! I saved two servings in container with a label to be pulled out for the hubby and I when I just don’t feel like cooking. 😉


  1. What size CrockPot does this work best in?

    • Kristin, to be honest Im not sure what size I have. I think it’s about medium size, certainly not the largest on the market but it definitely can make up to 12 servings.

  2. Thank you for this recipe. I made it last night and I was shocked at how delicious it was. It tastes just like the Olive Garden version. I froze two medium size containers so I’ll have it to enjoy in the coming weeks. I follwed your recipe with only one exception, I used about 1 cup less of the chicken broth and replaced it with 1 cup of fat free milk. Thanks again!!!

  3. I made this for supper last night with grilled sandwiches and it was delicious!!!! This is my favorite soup at Olive Garden and I can’t believe how good it was; maybe even better than the real thing! My husband went nuts for it! I didn’t really do anything different. Just added some garlic powder and onion powder along with the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Just wonderful!

  4. Sharon Whitaker says:

    I made this tonight and it was a HUGE hit!! I added two slices of bacon, crumbled, just because we like bacon in everything, haha! Thanks for an amazing recipe!!

  5. Can I use hot Italian sausage?

    • I’m sure you could. It would probably just make the soup a tad spicy.

    • Nethery says:

      I made this last night and it really needs spicy Italian sausage. I worked there for 2 years and ate this soup almost daily. The true OG soup has a slight kick to it. Otherwise, it tasted delicious and similar to the real deal!! Thanks for posting the recipe.

  6. what exactly is whipping cream? and so there is absolutely no cheese in this recipe ?

    • Whipping Cream is a form of milk. I suppose you could also use heavy cream. It’s usually found by the milk in the grocery store. And yes there may be no actual cheese but lots of dairy.

  7. Can you put it on low to cook all day while at work?

  8. Is there anything kale can be substitute for? Didn’t know if it was just in there for color or needed for flavor?

  9. haegler says:

    This sounds good except a recipe ive youd before had bacon in it also. Maybe give that a try.

  10. Krystal says:

    I followed the recipe except I wasn’t able to find heavy cream at the store, I live off shores, and substituted half/half and it curdled. Anyone know why that would happen? I brought it to room temp before adding it to the crock pot.

    • Im so sorry it didn’t work out. It breaks down like this (percents are averages):

      Half-and-Half: 12% fat
      Light Cream: 20% fat
      Light Whipping Cream: 30% fat
      Whipping Cream: 35% fat
      Heavy Cream and Heavy Whipping Cream: 38% fat

      As food scientist Harold McGee explains, “The proportion of fat determines both a cream’s consistency and its versatility.” As the fat content increases, the cream gets thicker and you can do more with it.

      Creams with more fat will whip up better into a stable whipped cream, and they will also resist curdling when used to enrich soups. Creams with lower fat content are better used in beverages or for pouring over desserts.

    • I add the cream in the last 15-30 minutes of cook time to prevent curdling.

  11. Valerie says:

    I made this last night but I made it stove top instead. The family loved it and next time I will make it with spicy Italian sausage instead. Easy to make and will definitely do it again.

    • Yea! So happy it was a hit Valerie. It’s been awhile since I’ve made this and now im craving it again. Maybe I will try the spicy sausage too. 🙂

  12. Hi! I have made this soup for years, but on the stovetop. I have found several things helpful to note. You can substitute spinach for the kale or some other sturdy green; lettuces are too delicate to handle wilting. I use cannellini beans instead of potatoes. I have substituted fat-free half and half instead of heavy cream; add the half and half right at the end of cooking and gently simmer until it comes to temperature to keep it from curdling. And I recommend using the spicy Italian sausage. This soup really needs the kick! I also add some bacon, chopped onion, and garlic!

  13. I tried this recipe tonight because zuppa is my favorite at olive garden. I tried using spicy italian sausage but it turned out greasy on the top. I guess I will use the regular italian next time.


  14. Tried this last night and had problems. Checked the potatoes at 3 hours and they weren’t done yet. Looked again at 3.5 hours. The potatoes still weren’t done and the broth/sauce broke (starch, fat and liquids had separated). Went ahead and ate it anyway. Tasted good, but disappointed in the break. Not sure a crockpot was the best method for this soup.

  15. Can you freeze this BEFORE cooking?

  16. I’ve been making this soup for years. I always use hot Italian sausage and never add hot pepper flakes It has a nice kick without adding additional heat. This soup is requested by many family + friends.

  17. We loved this recipe, but just with one exception…the milk separated because of an overheating in our crockpot (it’s certainly not top of the line and can happen with base models) and although it tasted awesome, it looked super gross! I would try doing just a little more broth and adding the milk in shortly before serving, as suggested by many websites. 🙂

  18. Making it right now cant wait till its done:-)

  19. Maybe use evaporated milk in place of the heavy cream. It doesn’t curdle when heated. It has a slightly different flavor but I think that with the sausage you won’t be able to tell the difference.

  20. Can you make the Zuppa Toscana soup on the stove in a regular pot or does it have to be a crockpot?

  21. Hi can I use whole milk instead of the whipping cream?

  22. I have this cooking in the crockpot right now. I can’t wait to try it. Loved how simple it was to put together as my cooking skills are not the best. Thanks for the recipe!!

  23. Hi! Just wanted to thank you for posting this recipe. I’m a teacher and my husband works long hours and commutes. We eat this soup year around and i love that there’s enough left after a week for me to freeze a few baggies for latee.

    Last winter I had the flu and my chest was so sore it hurt to breathe. This soup was a soothing relief during that time. So anyhow thanks RMM! You rock!

  24. Brittany says:

    How long can it last in the freezer before it goes bad?

  25. This is a great recipe, and one we turn to often for our menu. It’s soooo easy to throw together and turns out BETTER than Olive Garden’s. we like to double the kale (we’re hippies like that) but everything else is to recipe and spot on!

  26. I have made this awesome pot of goodness for years on the stovetop using bacon, spicy Italian sausage (well drained) , Yukon gold potatoes, milk from skim to 1/2 &. 1/2 and kale. Do not boil as milk may curdle. Salt and pepper to taste. We think it’s even better than OG.

  27. I tried this recipe earlier this week and it turned out delicious!! I loved it and my husband did too. Nice tweak on this recipe, will definitely be following your blog for more tips now. Great stuff!


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