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This Vegan Zuppa Toscana is loaded with hearty potatoes, plant-based sausage and bacon, tender kale, and a creamy soup broth. It’s the ultimate comfort food and just like Olive Garden – without the animal products!
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What is Zuppa Toscana?
Zuppa toscana is a broad term, literally meaning “Tuscan soup”, though, in Italy, it is known as “minestra di pane”, meaning “bread soup”. It is believed that it was created as a way to use up leftover, stale bread. There are many variations of the recipe, so the version we are focusing on today is a North American version popularized by the restaurant chain Olive Garden.
Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana Gone Vegan
If you’ve seen our YouTube series where We Tried Eating Vegan at Popular Fast Food and Restaurant Chains, you might have seen our episode where We Tried Eating Vegan at Olive Garden. We’ve even created a blog post full of tips and tricks for going vegan, including everything you can order at the top food chains.
Olive Garden does have vegan options in-house (highly recommend the breadsticks!), but they’re limited. This is why we’re taking matters into our own hands and recreating some of their most popular Italian soups at home in our kitchen! This vegan version of the classic hearty soup is equally as creamy and delicious but completely meat-free and dairy-free! Serve it for dinner tonight, and no one will miss the original.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Vegan cream: Just like our copycat Chicken Gnocchi Soup, we’re using a homemade vegan cream to make the soup broth extra creamy and high in protein. You’ll need a simple blend of silken tofu and any plain, non-dairy milk of choice. For added cheesiness, you can also add 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
- Vegan hot Italian sausage: Feel free to use any vegan Italian sausage of choice. We like to use Impossible Foods, but Beyond Meat Sausage and Field Roast Sausage are also popular, widely accessible options.
- Aromatics: You’ll need yellow onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes to start this Tuscan soup off right!
- Vegan bacon: Use store-bought or homemade. If you’re going the homemade route, try one of our many vegan bacon recipes: Tofu Bacon, Tempeh Bacon, Eggplant Bacon, Shiitake Mushroom, or Crispy Vegan Bacon!
- Broth: A classic vegetable broth will work, but we recommend using vegan chicken broth for a deeper, more savory flavor. We like to use Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base.
- Great Northern white beans: Olive Garden’s version doesn’t contain white beans but we love the addition for added creaminess and a boost of protein. If your grocery store is out of Great Northern beans, try another white bean such as cannellini beans or navy beans.
- Russet potatoes: The high starch content in potatoes helps to thicken the soup and makes it more hearty and filling. We prefer russet potatoes, but Yukon gold can work in a pinch.
- Kale: Fresh or frozen kale works. If needed, opt for a similar leafy green such as baby spinach.
How to Make Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- Make the silken tofu cream. Add the silken tofu and non-dairy milk to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth and set aside.
- Brown the vegan sausage. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the spicy Italian sausage until browned, then remove from the pot and set aside.
- Sauté the aromatics and bacon. Once the vegan sausage is removed, add in the diced onion, crushed red pepper, and vegan bacon. Sauté until the onion has softened, about 4 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the liquids. Pour in the vegetable broth along with the blended tofu cream, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then lower to a simmer.
- Prepare the potatoes. While the creamy broth is coming to a boil, cut each potato into quarters lengthwise, then slice across into thin, 1/8-inch thick slices.
- Add the potatoes and white beans. Once the potatoes are cut, add them to the soup pot along with the white beans and simmer until the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in the vegan sausage and kale. Lastly, stir in the browned vegan Italian sausage and kale and continue to cook until just heated through and the kale is bright and softened.
- Serve. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste, then serve while warm with vegan parmesan and parsley, or as desired. Enjoy!
Creamy zuppa toscana is hearty enough to enjoy on its own with a side of crusty bread. Try our Vegan Garlic Bread, No Knead Bread, Garlic Herb Dinner Rolls, or these Fluffy Potato Rolls. Or, take it to the next level and serve with Homemade Vegan Breadsticks for the ultimate Olive Garden experience!
As written, this creamy soup is naturally gluten-free. Make sure to use meatless Italian sausage and bacon that is certified gluten-free – these products can sometimes be made with vital wheat gluten, soy sauce, or other gluten by-products.
Yes! Most creamy vegan soups, like our Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup, are made with homemade cashew cream. This soup, on the other hand, is made creamy with silken tofu and plant-based milk. If you are allergic to nuts, make sure to use nut-free milk such as unsweetened almond milk, oat milk, or even coconut milk.
We have not tested an Instant Pot version of this soup recipe and unfortunately cannot advise. If you’re interested in making a vegan Instant Pot soup, you might like our Instant Pot Pasta e Fagioli, Instant Pot Lentil Noodle Soup, or this Instant Pot Black Bean Soup.
Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Freezing is unfortunately not recommended. Potatoes and cream-based soups do not freeze well and will become grainy and mealy upon thawing.
Reheat leftovers in the microwave or in a medium pot over medium-low heat until warmed through.