You will love this Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana recipe! This Olive Garden copycat recipe is made easily in one pot with minimal effort using your pressure cooker. With an emphasis on nutrient-dense ingredients, this healthier version will become your favorite soup that the whole family can enjoy. Plus, I offer suggestions to make this healthy zuppa toscana soup dairy-free, Whole30, and paleo without sacrificing flavor.
Zuppa Toscana, which translates to "soup of Tuscany" in Italian, is a versatile term encompassing various soups served on Tuscan bread. Traditionally, zuppa toscana featured a mix of chopped kale, zucchini, potatoes, celery, carrots, cannellini beans, and seasonings, often omitting meat.
Recently, the popularity of zuppa toscana soared, particularly after Olive Garden introduced the unlimited soup and salad option on their menu.
This North American version deviates from its traditional counterpart by incorporating flavorful Italian spicy sausage, bacon, russet potatoes, and indulgent heavy whipping cream, resulting in a richer and often tastier version.
This Olive Garden copycat recipe remains true to the essence of zuppa toscana, using wholesome and nourishing ingredients that align with your well-being, especially during this time of the year.
Savor the goodness of this healthful, nutrient-dense, and hearty soup conveniently made in a single pot—a favored kitchen companion, the Instant Pot.
- Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes of active hands-on time then let your pressure cooker take it from there
- Cooking Method: Instant Pot
- Dietary Info: Gluten-free and grain-free with suggestions to make it dairy-free and GAPS-compliant
- Tools Needed: sharp knife, cutting board, and a pressure cooker
- Skill Level: Easy
Key Features & Benefits
Healthier version of a family favorite - With nourishing chicken stock, pastured meats and quality dairy ingredients, this pressure cooker zuppa toscana is a powerhouse of healthy fats and nutrition. Read what nourishing foods are and why fats shouldn't be feared.
Convenience with hands-off prep - This Instant Pot version of a delicious Tuscan soup is a great recipe because it resembles the slow-cooker set-it-and-forget-it method.
Suitable for dietary needs - Easily switch things up and use cauliflower florets instead of potatoes, coconut cream instead of heavy cream, and turkey sausage instead of pork to suit your dietary preferences.
Comfort-food flavors and textures - Spicy Italian sausage, savory seasonings, creamy broth, bacon bits, and Parmesan cheese gives so much flavor that is comforting, hearty, and so delicious!
Meal prep friendly - Homemade soups are excellent players when it comes to meal prepping. Make a pot of Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana recipe and store it comfortably in the fridge for up to a week.
Ingredients for Healthy Zuppa Toscana Recipe
Learn how to make Zuppa Toscana in the Instant Pot with just 9 simple ingredients and 20 minutes of hands-on time.
- Bacon: I prefer to use bacon from heritage-bred pork that is naturally cured and nitrate and nitrite-free. You can also use homemade bacon crumbles and use olive oil to saute the onions and other ingredients since you won't have bacon grease.
- Italian sausage: Traditionally, mild Italian sausage is a classic choice, but any ground savory sausage will work. For a nice kick, use hot Italian sausage or another spicy sausage. To see my favorite sources for quality meat, check out the Meat Delivery section on my shop page.
- Russet potatoes: Hearty and satisfying, adding a comforting texture to the soup.
- Yellow onion: Infuses a rich flavor base for depth and complexity.
- Fresh garlic: Elevates the taste with its savory taste and aroma.
- Italian seasoning: A blend of dried oregano, basil, and rosemary for a classic Italian flavor profile.
- Bone broth: Choose between chicken broth or beef bone broth for a robust and nourishing soup base. You can also swap that with meat stock for a more milder flavor.
- Heavy cream: Makes the soup indulgent and creamy, or opt for half-and-half for a lighter version, since the pork sausage and bacon come with lots of healthy fats.
- Fresh kale: Baby kale makes it super convenient to just add to the pot and we prefer the taste as it's milder and softer in texture than curly kale.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Spicy - Amplify the kick by adding a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, a great option if spicy Italian sausage is unavailable.
- Change up the meat - If pork sausage isn't your thing, consider using other ground meats like Italian turkey sausage, chicken sausage, or even ground beef. I often sub turkey bacon for regular bacon.
- Potatoes - Use Yukon gold potatoes or any other kind of potatoes available to you. Russets are traditionally used in Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup but I often sub other types of potatoes for convenience.
- Leafy greens - Use curly, hearty kale for that classic bite, but baby kale, as well as fresh spinach, adds excellent variety.
- Whole30 Zuppa Toscana - For a dairy-free alternative, replace heavy cream with unsweetened coconut milk. Although not the most nutrient-dense, you can use almond milk to avoid the coconut-flavor when making dairy-free Zuppa Toscana.
- GAPS and Keto Zuppa Toscana - Make sure bacon and sausage are free from additives and sweeteners and sub cauliflower florets for potatoes.
💭Make it Nutrient-Dense: Use nourishing bone broth made with collagen-rich bones and raw cream for its massive benefits. The Instant Pot zuppa toscana soup won't be heated to high temperatures to destroy those beneficial properties.
How to Make Zuppa Toscana in Instant Pot
The complete printable recipe is below in the recipe card for your convenience. Follow these simple step-by-step instructions for the best results.
Step 1. Cook bacon
Press the saute function on the Instant Pot. Cut bacon into ½ inch pieces crosswise. Add diced bacon to the inner pot and cook until crispy and cooked through. Meanwhile, dice the onion. With a slotted spoon, scoop out all bacon bits and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
Step 2. Saute onions
Pour most of the bacon grease into a jar for future use, reserving 3 tablespoons. Add diced onion to the reserved bacon grease and cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. As onions start releasing juices, scrape the bottom of the pot to release fond (that's flavor!).
Step 3. Cook sausage
Push the onions towards the edge of the pot, clearing the center. Add sausage and brown, breaking up the meat. Eventually, the onions will get mixed in with the meat.
Step 4. Add seasonings
When no more pink on the sausage is visible, add minced garlic and Italian seasonings and stir to combine. Now would be a good time to scrape off any brown bits on the bottom of the surface of the inner pot. (This helps avoid the BURN notice.)
Step 5. Cook on high pressure
Add diced russet potatoes and broth to the Instant Pot. Close the lid and set the safety valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. When the cooking cycle has been completed, allow for natural pressure release for 10 minutes, followed by a quick pressure release.
Step 6. Finishing touches
When it is safe to do so, carefully open the lid. Add cream, kale, and your cooked bacon bits. Give it a good stir to combine everything well. Tip: This step may be reserved for a later time when ready to serve.
Helpful Tips for Easy Zuppa Toscana
- Use kitchen shears to cut bacon: Avoid dirtying up a cutting board and knife and use kitchen shears to easily cut bacon into small bite-size pieces directly into the pot.
- Save bacon grease: If bacon produces much grease, pour half of it into a small jar for later use. But reserve a little bit to caramelize onions as that contributes to this super delicious soup.
- Simplify seasonings: If you don't have Italian seasoning blend, use 2 teaspoons of each: dried oregano, dried rosemary, and dried basil.
- Avoid splashing: Add potatoes to the inner pot first, then pour in the broth to avoid broth splashing everywhere.
- Skip the salt: Don't add salt until after the end when you do a taste test. Bacon, sausage, and broth all have salt, and even heavy cream has a slightly salty flavor sometimes.
- Adjust consistency: If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can add a little more broth to thin it out. Remember that the soup will continue to thicken as it cools, so keep this in mind when adjusting the consistency.
💭Make Ahead Tip: Set the soup in the Instant Pot to cook in the morning and add cream and kale just before serving. The kale will retain its bright green color and won't be mushy.
We love serving this Italian soup with crusty bread like a classic sourdough. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper for a finishing touch. This incredibly flavorful soup is so hearty and satisfying that I find you don't need a side salad to pair it with. However, if you are serving this for company, it would be a good idea to include some light options like arugula salad with goat cheese and crispy roasted potatoes.
Here are some more pairing suggestions:
Storage and Reheating Instructions
How long does zuppa toscana last in the fridge?
To store: Transfer leftover soup to an airtight container or keep it in the pot with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days if using a pot and longer if using an airtight container.
To reheat: You can gently reheat this soup over medium high heat in a small saucepan on the stove top. Stir occasionally until warmed through.
Can you freeze zuppa toscana?
The short answer is no. Cooked potatoes do not freeze well, and dairy is always iffy, so it's best not to freeze it. If you make this low-carb with cauliflower and skip the dairy until before serving, then yes, it can be frozen.
Frequently Asked Questions
This zuppa toscana recipe is naturally gluten-free if you stick to bacon and sausage with no hidden gluten. Some conventional sausages and even bacon can have gluten-based ingredients including malt and wheat, so be sure to check labels. Sticking to homemade and from-scratch as much as possible will help you adhere to gluten-free zuppa toscana.
Yes, you can! While cooking bacon and sauteeing onions, place your sealed sausage in a bowl full of water to defrost the exterior layers first. This way, when it's time to cook the sausage, it will be half-thawed. Add the semi-frozen sausage to the inner pot if your Instnat Pot and start breaking it down with a wooden flat spoon. Continue cooking, flipping it, and breaking it apart until it's cooked through.
No, traditional zuppa toscana recipes typically contain dairy, such as heavy cream or half-and-half. Furthermore, they are often garnished with freshly grated parmesan cheese. However, dairy-free alternatives like coconut milk can be used to make dairy-free zuppa toscana.
Looking for more Instant Pot recipes? Here are some ideas:
Did you make this Zuppa Toscana Recipe Instant Pot version? Please leave a ⭐ recipe rating in the recipe card below and leave a review in the comments. Thank you!💚
Healthy Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana
- 8 ounces bacon
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 pound spicy sausage hot Italian sausage or mild sausage
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 2 pounds russet potatoes approximately 5 potatoes
- 3 quarts bone broth chicken or beef broth
- 5 ounces kale baby kale, curly kale, dino kale
- 1 pint heavy cream half and half or milk
- Saute: Press the saute function on the Instant Pot. Cut bacon into ½ inch pieces crosswise. Add bacon to the inner pot and cook until crispy and cooked through. Meanwhile, dice onion. With a slotted spoon, scoop out all bacon bits and transfer them to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
- Add: Pour bacon grease into a jar for future use, reserving 3 tablespoons in the Instant Pot. Add diced onion to the reserved bacon grease and cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. As onions start releasing juices, scrape the bottom of the pot to de-glaze and remove any burnt pieces from the surface.
- Cook: Push the onions towards the edge of the pot, clearing the center. Add sausage and cook, breaking up the meat. Eventually, the onions will get mixed in with the meat.
- Add: Meanwhile, mince garlic and prepare Italian seasonings and dice potatoes. Once the sausage has been cooked through and there is no more pink, add minced garlic and herbs. Stir to combine. Add diced potatoes and bone broth.
- Cook: Close the lid and set the safety valve to sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. When cooking cycle has completed, allow to naturally release pressure (NPR) for 10 minutes followed by quick pressure release (QPR) for remaining pressure.
- Finish: When safety valve has dropped and it is safe to do so, open the lid. Pour cream (or half and half), kale, and reserved bacon bits. Stir to combine. Serve hot and garnish with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese and ground black pepper.
- Bacon fat: If bacon produces a lot of grease, pour half of it into a small jar for later use. But reserve a little bit to caramelize onions.
- Skip the salt: Don't add salt until after the end when you do a taste test. Bacon, sausage, and broth all have salt.
- Avoid splashing: Add potatoes to the inner pot first, then pour in the broth to avoid broth splashing everywhere.
- Make-ahead tip: Set the soup in the Instant Pot to cook in the morning and add cream and kale just before serving. The kale will retain it's bright green hue and won't be mushy.