I’ve always lived near an Olive Garden, whether I was in Los Angeles, Orange County, or the Twin Cities. Despite having one of these restaurants within a few miles of me, I rarely find myself sitting inside of one.
In fact, it’s been years since I’ve ordered off an Olive Garden menu. Until just recently, the last memory I have of setting foot in one was with my co-workers, and we all went for the soup-salad-breadsticks lunch. That was when it was still only $5.99, so yeah, it’s been awhile…
But just recently, I did a mental search for an ideal girls’ lunch spot. It was literally frozen outdoors, so hot soup and warm bread sounded divine.
Once the idea was raised, it was quickly decided…we’d make a run for the soup-salad-breadsticks lunch at Olive Garden. Granted, it’s gone up a few bucks since I last had that exact same lunch, but it sounded like the perfect lunch plan.
Snugly seated in the warmth of the restaurant room, in a cozy booth, we girls chatted up a storm and happily shared the eventful happenings of our lives. We munched on those famous breadsticks (recipe for O.G. Breadsticks is here, by the way!) and warmed ourselves up with soup.
My favorite soup at O.G. has been and always will be their creamy, dreamy Zuppa Toscana. After slurping up my bowl on that lunch date, I went home and wistfully longed for a huge pot of that hearty soup.
That soup longing turned to reality. I made a gorgeous, mouthwatering batch of Zuppa Toscana. Enough to fill my own huge pot. Oh, my… this recipe is even better than the restaurant version. It goes without saying that homemade always shines brighter, because it’s fresh and made just the way you want it.
This Zuppa Toscana is savory, brothy, creamy, and brimming with the goodness of sausage, kale, and potatoes. All cooked to perfection. Crispy real bacon sure doesn’t hurt, either.
Did you make this?
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Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden Copycat)
- 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
- 12 slices bacon, cooked and diced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 7 ½ cups chicken broth
- 1 ½ lbs russet potatoes, cleaned and sliced into thin pieces
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 ½ tsp table salt, plus more to taste if needed
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 cups packed kale, choped into bite size pieces
- finely shredded parmesan cheese for serving
- In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, cook sausage and break up into pieces while cooking. When cooked through, transfer sausage to a separate dish, but reserve 1-2 tsp of the grease in the pot. Add diced onions to pot and cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add chicken broth, potatoes, sugar, fennel seeds, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, and immediately reduce to medium-low. Stir in half and half, kale, and cooked sausage. Cover pot and simmer 10-15 minutes or just until potatoes are nicely tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
- If desired, skim top to remove excess fat from soup. Ladle soup into bowls, garnished with diced bacon and parmesan.
Nutrition (per serving)
Source: Chew Out Loud, adapted from Cooking Classy
If you’re going to make Olive Garden copycat recipes, these delectable breadsticks are truly better than the restaurant version. They are super soft, tender, and hot out of the oven! You gotta eat them fresh (not hard, because they’re usually gone within minutes.)
If soup’s on for dinner but you’re short on time, this Tortellini Soup with Chicken and Veggies will be a definite hit.
For soup with a bit of delicious flair, here’s our favorite Mexican Chicken Stew.