Zuppa Toscana (“Tuscan soup”) is also known in Italy as minestra di pane (bread soup) and is made with vegetables like zucchini, celery, carrots, kale, as well as potatoes, cannellini beans, tomato sauce, pancetta, and toasted bread. Zuppa Toscana has many variations that depend on what kind of vegetabels are in season.

I visited Italy in the fall of 2023 and Tuscany was my favorite region, although there is a lot of Italy I have not yet explored. Tuscany is home to the city of Florence as well as some of the world’s most recognizeable art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s “David” and the Duomo basilica with its iconic dome engineered by Brunelleschi. Not to mention the picturesque rolling hills lined with olive groves and vineyards.

The photo aboe was taken from a lunch spot overlooking vineyards of Vernaccia grapes used to make Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a white wine typical of the area. In the background you can see the remaining towers of San Gimignano, a walled medieval town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the best pieces of advice I received before my trip to Italy was to order the house wine as it would surpass most expensive wines you’d find in the States. We did make our way through many bottles of house wine during the trip, but ate no soup, due mostly to the temperatures hovering in the 90s. Until I can visit again, I’ll have to get by on this Americanized version of the Italian classic.

This version of Zuppa Toscana skips the beans and bread, adds some kale and cream and turns out richer and creamier than its Italian counterpart. This variation is very much like the Zuppa Toscana you’d find at Olive Garden.

Zuppa Toscana doesn’t have any grains, which makes it good for the gluten-free eater. While the sausage, butter, and heavey cream add some saturated fat to the dish, you could work around this by using a leaner Italian sausage like chicken or turkey. You can also use less butter and a plant-based milk, though the soup won’t be as thick and rich if you do. But it will still be delicious.

zuppa toscana soup

Zuppa Toscana – American Style

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb Italian sausage, spicy casings removed
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 Tbsp flour (or flour substitute)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 qt chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 lb yellow potatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed chopped
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Cook Italian sausage over medium heat until brown, breaking up with a spatula until cooked through. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the fat behind.
  • Add the onion to the pan and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
  • Add the flour and stir for another minute.
  • Pour in the wine and simmer for a minute or two, stirring to scrape up the flour. Then whisk in the broth and water, mixing well.
  • Stir in the spices, optional red pepper flakes, and salt and petter to taste.
  • Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are almost cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in the half and half, the reserved sausage, and the kale. Continue to simmer until the kale has softened, about 3 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.