This amazing Dairy-Free Zuppa Toscana features chewy kale, crispy bacon, Italian sausage, and potatoes in a smooth savory broth. It's a favorite paleo one-pot soup recipe perfect for weeknight dinners. It's also the ultimate cool-weather comfort food. With only 10 ingredients plus a few common spices, this hearty soup recipe will win over your heart in no time!
If you’re new to Zuppa Toscana like I was, you are in for a BIG treat with this kale, sausage, and potato soup! As an Olive Garden classic, I remember watching friends ooo and ahh over the flavors while I missed out with a dairy intolerance. Now I can finally understand what the hype is about, and you can too!
If you’re up for a true Olive Garden experience at home, consider a ‘Soup and Breadsticks Meal’. Make this Zuppa Toscana and my Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup recipe on Mashed.com. Or try my House Favorite Vegan Minestrone Soup recipe that’s just a little different and more suited to my taste.
If you're gluten-free like me, a Foolproof Gluten-Free French Baguette makes a good easy breadstick substitution.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- it’s creamy and indulgent
- uses surprisingly unpretentious ingredients
- 10 main ingredients plus just a few spices
- 40 minutes
With that freshly crisped sprinkle of bacon on top, this recipe is a delight for dinner guests!
What is Zuppa Toscana?
The phrase Zuppa Toscana literally means soup from Tuscany. An authentic Tuscan soup often includes vegetable broth, chopped local vegetables such as zucchini and kale, as well as potatoes, bits of Tuscan bread, and an Italian bacon known as rigatino.
The Zuppa Toscana made popular by the Olive Garden Restaraunt is an American-Italian fusion recipe. This version includes heavy cream, sausage, potatoes, and kale in addition to some of the more traditional ingredients.
My Healthy Zuppa Toscana recipe is a dairy and gluten free Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana. However, I chose healthier soup ingredients with chicken sausage and coconut milk to lighten it up a bit.
What do you substitute for heavy cream?
Full-fat coconut milk in a can makes a perfect lactose and dairy-free substitute for heavy cream in recipes. You can simply substitute it one-for-one in place of heavy cream.
Does it taste like coconut?
This Dairy-Free Zuppa Toscana does not have a detectable coconut flavor from the coconut milk. With coconut milk, there is a fine line between ‘no coconut taste’ and tasting very coconut-y. I was careful to keep the amount below that line so it tastes just like the real thing!
Let’s make Healthy Zuppa Toscana
You need only 10 ingredients plus a few common spices to make this Zuppa Toscana without heavy cream. Check out our clean ingredients list:
Thick-cut bacon, tapioca starch (you can substitute corn or arrowroot starch), vegetable or chicken broth, Italian Sausage, mushrooms, onion, garlic cloves, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, potatoes, curly kale, and full-fat coconut milk.
- Use ground Italian sausage for smaller pieces in the soup (my partner’s preference). For larger pieces, start with Italian sausage links and remove the casing (my preference).
- Choose mild or spicy Italian sausage based on your personal preference. Both are very tasty.
- You can use chicken or pork sausage. I tried this recipe with both, and prefer chicken sausage because it's a little lighter.
Potatoes and Onion:
- I recommend a small dice when preparing these ingredients so they cook quickly. Boiling time can vary by a full 10 minutes depending on the size of the dice.
- White onion is more traditional. I used a yellow onion for one of the trials and both tasted great.
How to make this soup
I included more detail and step-by-step photos in the recipe card below. Here are the basic instructions for how to make Dairy-Free and Paleo Zuppa Toscana:
- Fry the bacon until crisp in a large soup pot on medium heat. Meanwhile, mix starch with ½ cup broth by whisking or shaking in a sealed jar.
- Remove the bacon from the pot and place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
- Remove bacon fat from the pot, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind.
- Add mushrooms, onion, and sausage to the pot and turn up the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring on occasion, until the sausage browns and the onion begins to soften.
- Then add the garlic and spices and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
- Add broth, potatoes, and the starch mixture to the pot. Stir well to mix it all together.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft.
- Add coconut milk and kale. Simmer for 5 minutes to wilt the kale.
That's it! Easy peasy. I recommend prepping the ingredients ahead of time since the process moves quickly once you get started.
And for a truly decadent meal, don’t forget dessert! My Unbelievably Authentic Dairy-Free Tiramisu is a fan-favorite no-cook dessert recipe and one you’ll be so glad you tried.
A glass of dry white wine pairs well with Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana. I recommend a dry Riesling or Pinot Gris.
Other gluten-free soup recipes you’ll love:
- Savory Pumpkin Stew
- House Favorite Vegan Minestrone Soup
- Super Addictive Thai Chicken Soup
- Easy Instant Pot Tomato Soup
- Northwest Beef Stew in the Instant Pot
A glass of wine and Italian dinner music is all you need for a stellar Italian-themed dinner. Enjoy your evening!