Our zuppa tuscana recipe is a hearty blend of bacon, sausage, potatoes, kale, cream, and parmesan cheese that just screams "comfort food." Now made in the Instant Pot, this delicious soup can be waiting and ready on the table in under 30 minutes.
Everyone remembers the first time they went to Olive Garden. Whether it was on a lackluster eighth grade date, your grandma’s birthday, or an awkward work lunch, there is just something about the faux-Italian marble columns and painted-on trailing vines of Olive Garden that seems to put everyone at ease. And whenever one thinks of Olive Garden, they immediately think of the unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks special.
Priced at $10, the soup, salad and breadsticks special is still probably one of the best lunch meals around. And while Olive Garden has other notable soup offerings, the star of the show is undoubtedly the zuppa tuscana. Creamy, cheesy, and meaty, with a healthy dose of green vegetables, this soup will make you feel sluggish and virtuous all at the same time.
Gather the ingredients for zuppa tuscana
Zuppa toscana is named after the region of Tuscany, one of Italy’s most heralded destinations, whether you’re touring for food or for art. Yet its mix of curly kale, russet potatoes, and Italian sausage feels like a hodgepodge of American cultures — a bit of Scottish, a bit of Irish, and a touch of Italian. And as befitting a dish popularized by America’s most beloved fast-Italian chain, it’s unapologetically common, affordable, and utterly delicious.
To make our Instant Pot zuppa tuscana, you’ll need to stop by the deli for bacon, hot Italian sausage, and parmesan. Don’t worry about price or quality — simple, everyday ingredients is the key word here.
Veggie staples like onion, garlic, Russet potatoes, and kale are next on our list. To wrap up this simple soup, you’ll need to grab chicken broth, dried oregano and chili flakes, and heavy cream.
Prep and chop the zuppa tuscana ingredients
To make this super simple and fast Instant Pot zuppa tuscana in under 30 minutes, you’ll want to get started by chopping all your ingredients first.
Cut your bacon into small cubes. This is best done when the bacon is taken straight out of the fridge; room-temperature bacon is sticky and tends to rip slightly due to its high fat content. Dice the hot Italian sausage into bite-sized pieces. The easiest way to do it is cut each sausage in half lengthwise, and then cut each of those halves in half lengthwise again. Then cut each sausage spear into 1-inch pieces and set them aside. Finely dice the onion, and mince the garlic in a garlic press or with a sharp chef’s knife. Cube the potatoes into pieces of a similar size to the sausage.
Tear the kale into small pieces and discard the stems. The easiest way to do this is to fold each kale leaf in half lengthwise, and cut out the stem by making a long slightly angled cut along the kale’s ribs. Then gather all the remaining leaves, and give them a hearty chop — you don’t want to end up slurping on large kale pieces.
Cook the zuppa tuscana’s bacon
With all your veggies cut and prepped, the cooking part of the Instant Pot zuppa tuscana should be a downright breeze. Set your Instant Pot to the sauté function. Add chopped bacon and sauté until browned and crispy, stirring occasionally, about five minutes. The bacon should emit a lot of fat as it cooks, so there’s no need to add any oil to the pot.
Once your bacon has cooked to a satisfactory level, remove it from the pot and set aside. Wipe some of the remaining grease with a paper towel. Otherwise, you’ll end up collecting a lot of naturally occurring oil from the bacon and sausage, which will make your zuppa tuscana taste greasy.
Sauté the zuppa tuscana’s Italian sausages in the Instant Pot
After your bacon has been cooked, it’s time to cook the zuppa tuscana’s Italian sausage. Add the Italian sausage to the pot. Sauté, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until it has browned around the edges and is cooked through, about five minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
There’s no need to wipe the pot after the sausage, since you’ll want to use that flavored fat for cooking your onions. If, however, you are watching your fat intake, you may want to wipe the Instant Pot clean and use a healthier fat like avocado oil or grapeseed oil. Either way, it’s about to get delicious in here!
Sauté your zuppa tuscana onions with seasoning
With your Instant Pot still set to the saute function, add the diced onion pieces to the pot. If your Italian sausages didn’t emit enough oil, you may want to add a touch of your preferred oil to the pot, to keep the onions from burning.
Sauté the onions until they are translucent and stirring occasionally. This should take about five minutes. If your onions are browning too quickly, reduce the strength of the sauté function.
Add minced garlic and dried oregano to the onions, and give it a hearty stir until all the onions are coated in the seasonings. Sauté for another minute, taking care not to burn the garlic. Continue stirring often.
Add the zuppa tuscana ingredients back to pot and cover with water
The time has almost come to seal the Instant Pot, and forget about it for a few minutes. This would be a good time to mix some salad with lettuce, red onions, tomato slices, black onions, and pepperoncini peppers, to really match the Olive Garden experience!
Add the diced russet potatoes to the Instant Pot. Pour in the chicken broth and return the bacon and sausage to the pot. Season with chili flakes and salt and pepper. Go light on the salt, as the bacon and sausage are plenty salty as is!
Close and twist the Instant Pot lid to seal. Select "pressure cook" on the manual setting, and set pressure to high. Set the time for five minutes. At the end of the cooking cycle, perform a quick release according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Add cream and kale to the zuppa tuscana
Once your Instant Pot has finished cooking and releasing, add in the diced kale. Stir with a wooden spoon until it’s all wilted. You may even want to close the lid and let the soup steam the kale for a couple of minutes, though this is not necessary.
Add the heavy cream and stir well to combine. We recommend using heavy cooking or whipping cream, but you can use 15 percent cooking cream or even half-and-half if that’s all you have. Just don’t use regular milk and expect the same results — the soup really needs the fattiness of the cream to bind and not split.
Taste the soup and add salt and pepper, as needed. You may want to add more chili flakes, if your sausage wasn’t spicy enough.
Serve zuppa tuscana with parmesan and chili flakes
Happy days! Your copycat zuppa tuscana is done cooking in the Instant Pot, and in a fraction of time it would have taken you to cook it in a regular pot, or even place an order with Olive Garden, and then wait to get it.
Pour the zuppa tuscana into large bowls, distributing enough pieces of Italian sausage per bowl, so no one feels left out. Top zuppa tuscana with a heavy sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and additional chili flakes, to taste. Serve immediately, with that Olive Garden salad you made earlier, and a big, bold glass of Italian red.
Zuppa toscana will keep up to five days in a well sealed container in the fridge. Just hold off on adding the parmesan and additional chili flakes until you’re serving it.
There’s no need to visit Olive Garden when you can create their flavorful Zuppa Toscana soup at home. The recipe pairs perfectly with salad and glass of wine.
- 6 slices of bacon (about 6 oz or 170 g)
- – 5-6 hot Italian sausages (500g or 1lb)
- – 1 onion
- – 4 cloves of garlic
- – 1 teaspoon oregano
- – 4 potatoes
- – 6 cups chicken broth (1.5 litres)
- – ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- – ½ teaspoon salt
- – ¼ teaspoon pepper
- – ½ bunch kale
- – 1 cup heavy cream
- – salt and pepper, to taste
- grated parmesan, for serving
- Cut bacon into small cubes. Dice sausage into bite-sized pieces. Finely dice onion. Mince garlic. Cube potatoes. Tear kale into small pieces, discarding stems.
- Set Instant Pot to sauté function. Add chopped bacon and cook until browned and crispy, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside. Wipe some of the remaining grease with a paper towel.
- Add Italian sausage to the pot. Sauté, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until it has browned around the edges and is cooked through. About 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Add onion and sauté until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and sauté another minute.
- Add potatoes and chicken broth. Return bacon and sausage to the pot. Season with chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Close lid. Select pressure cook on the manual setting, and set pressure to high. Set time for 5 minutes. At the end of the cooking cycle, perform a quick release according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Add in kale and stir until it’s all wilted. Add cream and stir well to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.
- Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.