Barb's Zuppa Toscana

Purely from scratch, better ingredients and proportions make this Zuppa Toscana a creamy, hearty, and robust sausage-potato soup; every bite is perfection. For around 25 years, I've been making and tweaking this recipe to make it better, and more like its Olive Garden counterpart.  The result is a flavor that hit the mark and went beyond it. 

Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Barbar, Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Mom


Barb's Beef Italian Sausage specifically for Zuppa Toscana

  • 3 lbs Ground Beef
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground black pepper (less if you're using fresh. The stewing really brings-out the heat in black pepper.)
  • 3 3/4 tsp Fennel ground in a coffee grinder specifically used for spices only
  • 1 Tbsp coriander from whole seeds freshly ground in a spice grinder

Make the Soup

  • 6 Quart Stock pot
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes if you like it spicy. Add more, less, or none to your tastes
  • 2 32 oz beef broth
  • 1 32 oz chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt Add more or less to taste
  • 5 lg Idaho russet potatoes skin-on, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced into 1/8" thin triangles
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 bag or 1 bunch of chopped Kale (this is to taste, so add more or less as you like)
  • 1 wedge grated Romano Cheese


  1. We're using a lesser peppered version version of my Beef Sausage since the stewing really brings out the pepper's heat and it can become overwhelming. If you like your soup really hot, feel free to use the full-pepper version, or just add more red pepper flakes later when it's time to add it. Your choice. 

  2. In a large stock pot, crumble the sausage evenly by hand into the bottom of the stock pot. Add your pepper flakes if you want extra heat to your soup. Add 32 ounces of beef broth to the beef before it cooks. Stir it all together with a spatula, breaking up the beef until it meshes with the broth. It'll look terrible... like a soupy raw beef nasty, but this method is what makes lean beef stay tender in the absence of higher fats. Your soup will be tender and soothing as opposed to tough bits of beef tearing at your senses. Bring it to a boil while stirring often, until cooked through.

  3. Add both the remaining beef and chicken broths, then stir in the salt.

  4. While bringing the soup to a boil, chop and add potatoes, skin-on, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced into 1/8” thin triangles. Simmer 20 minutes.
  5. While simmering, chop kale into 1/2” wide strips, or use pre-chopped kale.
  6. Once it has simmered for 20 minutes, stir in the cream, and add kale one handful at a time, pushing the kale down into the soup with your spatula. Kale goes in big and fluffy, but reduces significantly. If you like more kale, at a couple of handfuls at a time, pushing down into the liquid and covering with a lid for a few minutes while it wilts. Be sure to push it down into the broth, as it will add flavor.
  7. Simmer on low another 20 minutes or until the kale is wilted and tender.
  8. Top with hand-grated Romano cheese as desired. Serve, refrigerate, or freeze.

Recipe Notes

NOTES: Zuppa Tuscana is best the next day after sitting in the fridge. The potatoes will absorb salt, so if it's too salty today, it may not be tomorrow.   Use homemade broths, because they taste NOTHING like what you buy in the store in jars. Making broth is easy, and you make it simply by stewing chicken bones in the crockpot for a day, or by stewing beef bones or using the drippings from a roast. A world different than store-bought.  Once you taste homemade, store bought broths are disgusting and watered down. Horrible stuff. Trust me, make your own broths and freeze it. I'll be getting a how-to up for you kids in a bit.