Vegan Zuppa Toscana is a rich, creamy, and hearty soup made with vegan sausage, potatoes, and kale then topped with vegan bacon bits! It's simply the ultimate vegan comfort food! You may remember it from the menu at The Olive Garden.
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Although their version is far from vegan, my copycat version is completely plant-based and can be made gluten-free as well! This creamy vegan Zuppa Toscana is sure to be a hit!
This delicious soup is a healthy dairy-free alternative to the Olive Garden Version of classic Zuppa Toscana. This version is free of dairy, gluten, and nuts, yet packed with hearty plant-based protein.
🧾 Ingredients and substitutions
- Olive Oil - to fry the sausage and kale.
- Veggie Sausage - you can use any vegan Italian-style sausage product that you like Beyond meat sausage, Field Roast, or Tofurky sausage. You can make your own vegan Italian sausage using seitan or use my gluten-free vegan sausage crumbles recipe.
- Garlic - for flavor. You can also add a diced onion along with the garlic if you choose.
- Kale - a large bunch of fresh kale washed and ripped into small pieces with the hard stems taken off.
- Potatoes - About 4-5 medium potatoes washed, peeled, and cubed. Any type of potatoes will work, however, Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes with thinner skin will not need to be peeled. Russet potatoes are also a good choice.
- Veggie Broth - vegetable stock or vegan "chicken" style broth works best. I like the Not Chick'n brand bouillon cubes.
- Italian Seasoning - to flavor the soup. Any Italian herb mix will work or you can add your own mix of basil, thyme, and oregano.
- Plant-Based Milk - any plain non-dairy milk will work. I like soy milk, coconut milk, or oat milk because they are the creamiest, but you can also use rice milk, almond milk, or any other plant-based milk that you want. You can also use half cashew cream and half water instead of milk.
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper - for flavor. (The amount of salt you will need will depend on the type of broth you use). A dash or two of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper will give the soup a little heat if you like it spicy.
- Oil or Vegan Butter - to make a roux to thicken the soup. You can use any neutral-flavored fat like canola oil, light olive oil, refined coconut oil, or my vegan butter recipe.
- Flour - to make the roux. You can use regular white wheat flour or a gluten-free flour mix. (If using GF flour, avoid the mixes with sorghum flour and/or tapioca starch for best consistency). (You can use potato or corn starch mixed with cold water instead of flour and oil if you wish).
- Bacon Bits - to sprinkle on top of your soup. Most store-bought bacon bits are actually made from soy protein and are vegan. However, it is super easy to make your own vegan bacon bits and avoid red dye and preservatives.
🥄 How to make vegan Zuppa Tuscana
Step 1 - Peel and dice the potatoes into small cubes then cover them with water so they don't get brown, and set aside.
Step 2 - Chop up the vegan Italian sausage links into small bite-sized pieces or make your own sausage crumbles.
Step 3 - Wash a large bunch of fresh kale and rip it up into small pieces pulling the large stems off.
Step 4 - In a large dutch oven, sauté the sausage in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
Step 5 - Add the chopped kale and garlic and sauté kale for about 3-5 more minutes until it gets dark and shiny.
Step 6 - Sprinkle in the Italian herbs and stir well.
Step 7 - Add the peeled diced potatoes and vegetable broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Step 8 - Pour in the plain plant-based milk and continue to simmer on low while you make the roux.
🥣 Thicken the soup with a roux
Step 9 - Heat oil and flour in a separate soup pan and stir with a whisk.
Step 10 - Ladle a spoonful of the broth out of the soup and pour it into the oil and flour mixture stirring well between each spoonful.
Step 11 - Continue to add the broth 1 ladle at a time until most of the broth is mixed with the roux and has become thick and bubbly.
Step 12 - Pour the remaining soup into the 2nd soup pot with the thickened broth and stir well.
❓Frequently asked questions
The literal translation of Zuppa Toscana means "Tuscan soup" however, in Italy it is called "Minestra di Pane" meaning "Bread Soup." The Olive Garden restaurant chain has Americanized it and made it popular in the USA.
Yes, canned coconut milk will give you a deliciously rich and creamy dairy-free Zuppa. However, it will change the taste and give it a little coconut flavor.
If you want an easier or lower-fat way to thicken the soup, you can use potato starch or corn starch mixed with cold water instead of a roux. To do this, mix 1/3 cup of starch with 1/2 cup of cold water and add the slurry to the soup at the end of cooking. Stir well while you bring the soup to a slow boil and then turn off the heat.
Note: This method is not quite as rich and satisfying as the roux method, but it's much easier and lower in fat. If you have potato starch, that is my preferred starch for this method. I feel that it has a better flavor and texture than corn starch.
🥡 Storing and Freezing
This soup will still taste great for up to 3 months in the freezer in an air-tight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-5 days and makes delicious lunches!
Note: I know that this seems like a big pot of soup, but it's so good that my family of four will usually finish the whole pot in one night. If there are leftovers, I'm excited because it's delicious the next day too!
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📋 Vegan Zuppa Toscana recipe
Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- 4 cups potatoes washed, peeled, and cut into small cubes
- 4 links vegan sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large bunch kale or an 8 oz. bag of pre-washed kale
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian herbs
- 8 cup Not Chick'n broth or any other vegetable broth
- 2 cups plain soy milk or any other plain plant-based milk.
- salt and pepper to taste (use a few shakes of cayenne pepper for spicy soup).
For the roux
- 1/3 cup vegan butter or any neutral-flavored oil
- 1/2 cup flour or GF flour mix (without sorghum)
- Peel and dice the potatoes into small cubes then cover with water so they don't get brown, and set aside.
- Chop up the vegan Italian sausage links into small bite-sized pieces or make your own sausage crumbles.
- Wash a large bunch of fresh kale and rip it up into small pieces pulling the large stems off.
- In a large dutch oven, sauté the sausage in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
- Add the chopped kale and garlic and sauté kale for about 3-5 more minutes until it gets dark and shiny.
- Sprinkle in the Italian herbs and stir well.Add the peeled diced potatoes and vegetable broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender.
- Pour in the plain plant-based milk and continue to simmer on low while you make the roux.
To thicken the soup with a roux
- Heat 1/3 cup of oil and 1/2 cup of flour in a separate soup pan and stir with a whisk.
- Ladle spoonfuls of broth out of the soup and pour it into the oil and flour mixture. Stir well between each spoonful.
- Continue to add the broth 1 ladle at a time until most of the broth is combined with the roux and the mixture has become thick and bubbly.
- Pour the remaining soup into the second soup pot with the thickened broth.
- Stir well and serve with bacon bits sprinkled on top. It's also delicious with a squeeze of lemon juice and served with crusty bread.
To thicken with corn or potato starch instead of a roux
- Mix 1/3 cup of starch with 1/2 cup of cold water and add it to the soup at the end of cooking.
- Stir well while you bring the soup to a slow boil and then turn off the heat.
- You can stir the bacon bits in at the end, but I like to sprinkle them on top when you serve the soup. This way they stay crunchy.
- either use gluten-free flour mix in the roux
- or use the starch method to thicken.
*This recipe was originally published on September 4, 2019. It was updated on March 1, 2022, to include new images and more detailed information.
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