This easy Zuppa Toscana recipe, inspired by the Olive Garden version, uses store-bought gnocchi as a shortcut to bring this creamy sausage and kale soup together in just 30 minutes.
Raise your hand if you grew up loving the Olive Garden’s famous zuppa toscana! Well if you happen to have a nostalgic craving for this cozy soup, but are perhaps a bit pressed for time, here is my shortcut version that I honestly love just as much. ♡
It’s made with store-bought potato gnocchi that only take a few minutes to cook to pillowy perfection, saving us the step of having to dice and boil the traditional pound of potatoes. And when combined with the classic combination of zesty Italian sausage, creamy garlic broth, and loads of fresh kale, this delicious soup tastes as cozy and comforting as ever. Plus it can be ready to go in just 30 minutes using just 7 main ingredients!
Feel free, of course, to customize this recipe by adding in any extra veggies, tomatoes, beans, bacon, or other add-ins that happen to sound good. And if you prefer to make this soup vegetarian, we often make ours nowadays using plant-based Italian sausage (either sliced or ground) which works just as well. I recommend serving it with a simple arugula salad and maybe a quick batch of roasted veggies on the side. And especially on chilly nights, a warm bowl of this zuppa is sure to warm you right up.
Let’s make a quick batch together!
Easy Zuppa Toscana Ingredients
Before we get to the full recipe below, here are a few notes about the ingredients you will need for this Olive Garden-inspired zuppa toscana recipe:
Italian sausage: This serves as the primary seasoning for this soup, so be sure to choose a good-quality Italian sausage that you love! I’m partial to spicy Italian sausage in this recipe, although you’re welcome to go with sweet or mild Italian sausage if you prefer. And while ground sausage is definitely easiest to work with here, sliced sausage works well too.
Gnocchi: We’re going to save time by adding a package of store-bought gnocchi to the soup, which only take a few minutes to cook. If you are making this recipe gluten-free, be sure to look for certified gluten-free gnocchi. (Or if you feel like going the extra mile, you can make my favorite homemade gnocchi.)
Onion and garlic: These will serve as our base aromatics for the soup. Feel free to add more garlic if you prefer!
Chicken stock: Again, since we are using so few ingredients here, I recommend purchasing whichever good-quality chicken or vegetable stock you love best.
Greens: I typically add a few large handfuls of chopped fresh kale to this soup. But baby spinach or collard greens would also be delicious options.
Heavy cream: I typically add around 1 cup of cream to this recipe, but feel free to use more or less if you prefer.
Salt and pepper: Don’t forget to also season the soup as needed with fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Roasted red peppers (optional): My original version of this recipe also added in a small jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced. I don’t always keep roasted red peppers stocked in my pantry, and have found this soup to be plenty flavorful without them. But feel free to add in a jar if you’d like!
Toppings (optional): And finally, feel free to garnish the soup with any extra toppings that you love best! I often love adding on some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, plus perhaps some crumbled bacon or chopped fresh basil if we happen to have them on hand.
Zuppa Toscana Recipe Variations
Here are a few other recipe variations that you’re welcome to try:
Add tomatoes: This soup is also wonderful with some diced tomatoes (I recommend fire-roasted) mixed in.
Add veggies: Add in any of your favorite soup-friendly veggies (such as carrots, cauliflower, peas, red bell pepper, zucchini, etc) that you would like.
Add beans: Add in a can of Great Northern white beans (rinsed and drained) if you would like to add in some extra protein.
Make it vegan: Use plant-based Italian sausage and your preferred plain non-dairy milk or cashew cream in place of the cream.
Make it spicier: I love adding spicy Italian sausage to this soup to give it some heat. But feel free to add in some crushed red pepper flakes to kick things up another notch.
More Cozy Soup Recipes
Looking for more Italian-inspired cozy soup recipes to try? Here are a few of our faves:
Cook the sausage, onions and garlic.Add the sausage and onions to a large stockpot. Cook for 8-10 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break up the sausage as it cooks, until the sausage is browned and the onion has softened. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Simmer.Add chicken stock and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Add the gnocchi, kale, heavy cream, and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the surface of the soup.
Season.Taste and season the soup with salt and black pepper as needed.
Serve.Serve warm, sprinkled with any of your desired toppings, and enjoy!
Recipe edit: This recipe was edited slightly in 2022 to add onions. The original recipe also included 1 small jar of roasted red peppers (drained and diced), which you are welcome to add in with the chicken stock if you would like!
I’ve been using your recipe for years. Everyone I feed it to love it and get the recipe. I’ve had it at their places.This was the first time I’ve read your article that goes with it. I always thought I was alone in wanting to be able to picture my loved ones in their environments. I want to know what little things they fill their days with, etc. Thanks for everything.
Can you use frozen gnocchi?
I’ve made this countless times and it’s a slam dunk every time! The only recipe of yours that I’ve made more often than this is your skinny orange chicken. My husband asks for it frequently.
This soup is ten times better than Olive Garden’s!
I absolutely love this soup, it’s a go-to for me and my wife, has been for YEARS! I can make it from memory but always pull it up for reference just in case, today I noticed it changed, it used to include a jar of diced roasted red peppers which is how we’ve always made it. It also said to put in the gnocchi and kale at the same time. For what it’s worth, the red peppers really make a world of difference!
That being said last year I made it for me and my best friend for Christmas since my wife was out of town for work and my friend doesn’t have family in the area. When we were eating he was really quiet so I asked what he thought of the soup and he said “I just can’t stop eating it, this is so good!”
Hi, what if you wanted to omit the sausage? Other additions or thoughts?
The sausage adds so much flavor! Try Beyond Sausage if you’re vegetarian.
Made this tonight, super yummy! The spicy pork sausage I used was a little too spicy for us so I ended up using two cans of coconut milk and some lemon juice. Great recipe!
Really wish I’d drained the sausage after browning it. I thought about it before proceeding but thought, “well, Ali doesn’t say to drain the sausage; maybe I don’t need to drain it.” The orange oil/grease pooling on top of the soup tells me that I should have listened to my gut and drained the sausage.
Otherwise, this was delicious and easy.
This was so good! I don’t usually have/use heavy cream. I put about 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/4 cup full fat yogurt in a bowl, added hot stock, and used my little hand held coffee frother to mix so it wouldn’t break when I added it to the pot. Also used mustard greens. A quick, easy, and delicious soup I’ll be making time and time again.
*plain full fat Greek yogurt
The recipe edit disclaimer says that you added onion. I think it should say garlic? The original recipe didn’t have garlic but it did have onion. Personally I think the red peppers add a lot to the soup so hopefully people add it to the recipe. This will be the first time we try it with garlic. I make it for my partner who loves it so we’ll see if he likes the new addition 😅
We make this with Impossible plant-based sausage and Better than Bouillon “No Chicken” broth, and it is truly a family favorite. Such and rich and comforting meal!
I was surprised and disappointed to see the changes to this recipe. I love the roasted red pepper for its color and flavor so of course I added it. I also brown the meat first so if I need to drain some of the fat I can. The onion is a fine addition. I only add about 1/2 c. heavy cream and that is plenty for our taste. This is a delicious soup but I think a lot also depends on the quality and flavor of the Italian sausage you use. Lucky for me my local grocer has a great meat dept. and I love their sausage they make. I usually use less than a pound.
My kids loved this although it will forever we dino soup. Kale for the herbivores, sausage for the carnivores and gnocchi are dino eggs 🦖🦕
So easy, fast AND INCREDIBLE! Made this gluten free and dairy free with coconut milk instead of dairy. Doubled this recipe and it was gone, fast! My family has already requested I make this again. :-)
Would you be able to send me the original recipe that had the roasted peppers? I love it and now I can’t find the recipe. Thank you!!
I’ve been using the 7 ingredient zuppa toscana recipe of yours for years and it’s amazing! I can’t seem to find it on your blog and the pin I have saved is now a different zuppa toscana recipe. Do you have the old recipe?
I’ve been making your recipe for 6 years now! I always come back to it and my family always enjoys it! I’ve made it for gatherings and to take to others that need a meal. Thank you for this recipe!