Creamy Kale and Sausage Soup (Zuppa Toscana)

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This creamy kale and sausage soup is the perfect hearty meal to help you beat the January blues! Crispy sausage, potatoes, and kale are cooked in a creamy broth with just a hint of lemon for a meal that the whole family will love.

creamy kale and sausage soup in a blue pot on a marble background
This creamy kale and sausage soup is so, so good! When I released my first cookbook, one of your favorite recipes was my lemony kale and sausage soup. This soup takes the base of that recipe (crispy sausage, kale, and plenty of lemon) and amps it up even more with the addition of bacon, onion, garlic, potatoes, and cream (or coconut milk for dairy-free)!

creamy kale and sausage soup in a blue pot on a marble background
You may also know this soup as Zuppa Toscana, which literally translates to ‘soup in the style of Tuscany,’ and was widely popularized by Olive Garden. While I’ve never personally eaten Olive Garden’s version (my trips to Olive Garden pre-gluten free always involved breadsticks, more breadsticks, maybe a little salad, and fettuccine alfredo) we decided to go ahead and make it our own
The sausage and bacon in this creamy kale and sausage soup give it a wonderful savory flavor, while the potatoes add just a bit of healthy starchy carb content, the cream a touch of richness, and lemon juice adds a bright acidity that really lets the flavors sing. If you have a household full of kale-haters, this soup is the PERFECT way to convince them that not only may kale not be awful, but it’s actually really, really good!

creamy kale and sausage soup in a blue pot on a marble background
Finally, we decided to make this creamy kale and sausage soup on the stovetop because the bacon, sausage, and onion all need to be pre-cooked and from there it’s just a short time until it is done. But, you can absolutely make it in a slow cooker or in the Instant Pot by sautéing everything in the Instant Pot, then cooking on high pressure for about 7 minutes. After that, you’ll simply stir in your kale and let it cook until wilted and bright green, then stir in your cream and lemon juice and serve.

Whichever method you choose, we hope you enjoy this soup all winter long! If this soup is calling your name, you might also love our Squeaky Clean Chicken & Veggie Soup for a similar, but more brothy option.

 

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Creamy Kale and Sausage Soup

creamy kale and sausage soup in a blue pot on a marble background

This creamy soup brings together crispy Italian sausage, potatoes, and kale for a hearty but healthy soup that the whole family will love!

  • Author: Amber Goulden
  • Prep Time: 00:10
  • Cook Time: 01:00
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
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Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 pounds bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (we used russets)
  • 8 cups chicken broth, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 head curly kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add the bacon to a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and drain off the fat.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the sausage and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the sausage is brown and crisp, breaking it up as it cooks. Remove the sausage from the pot and drain the excess fat.
  3. Add the olive oil to the pot along with the onion and garlic, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is transluscent and garlic is fragrant. Add the sausage back to the pot along with the potatoes, broth, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  4. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Add in the kale, then cover and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the kale is wilted and bright green.
  6. Stir in the heavy cream, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper flakes, and bacon, and cook for a 3-5 minutes, until warmed through, then taste for seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper if needed, and serve!

Notes

Instant Pot Method:

Complete steps 1-3 in your Instant Pot, then cover and seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Once it is done, release the pressure immediately and stir in the kale. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the kale is wilted, then proceed to Step 6.

Slow Cooker Method

Proceed with steps 1-3, then add the onions, garlic, sausage, potatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to your slow cooker. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, then stir in the kale and cook for 2-3 minutes, until wilted and bright green, and proceed with step 6.

Comments

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  1. Mallory Williams says:

    So darn good! Perfect soup for our snow day! Made half with heavy cream for the family and half for me with coconut milk. Love this soup!

    5.0 rating

  2. Nina says:

    DELICIOUS!! My husband and I gobbled this right up in no time!

  3. Crystal says:

    Sooooo good! I used the coconut milk because it’s what I had in the pantry. OMG. Yum.

  4. Crystal says:

    If I could figure out how to rate it, I’d give it 5 stars.

    Also – this makes a huge batch – I’ll be freezing half :).

  5. Phyllis says:

    Made this last night in the Instant Pot. It was delicious. We will definitely add this to our list of regular recipes.

    5.0 rating

  6. Nicole says:

    I’m thinking about using spinach instead of kale. Can you see a reason that spinach would be a bad choice?

  7. Danielle Baxter says:

    Just stumbled upon this recipe and made this twice already in the past month. Trying not to make the same mistake I did the first time by making sure I have enough leftover to freeze. My toddler actually loves this! What a great list of ingredients! Thank you ladies!

    5.0 rating

  8. Sophie says:

    So good! We’ve made this multiple times and also spun our own version. Sub sweet potatoes in place of white, use chicken instead of sausage, use 1 can of lite coconut milk instead of full fat. That makes a DESLISH chicken soup that feels a litte lighter.

  9. Kristin says:

    What can you substitute if you don’t have potatoes on hand?

    1. Austexan says:

      Drained, rinsed cannellini beans work well as a substitute I’ve found

  10. Jenny says:

    My husband and I both love this soup! It’s easy to make, healthy, and super tasty!

  11. Mary Rose says:

    This my first attempt to use my InstantPot and it turned out great! My husband loved it, too. Next time I’ll experiment with ways to make it a little healthier – maybe turkey sausage and half and half? I already reduced the bacon to one slice. Great way to inaugurate my IP!

  12. Hannah says:

    SOOO good! Never made this soup before and this recipe was perfect. Adding to our favorites, huge hit!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      That’s so great to hear, Hannah! It’s one of our favorites for sure!

  13. Janene says:

    SO DELICIOUS! Made this last night and it came out amazing. I used Italian Chicken Sausage and Organic Full Cream Coconut Milk with all the other ingredients. Thank you!!

    5.0 rating

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad you enjoyed it, Janene!!

  14. Chelsea says:

    This is the best version of this soup I have ever made! So fresh tasting and not heavy on the stomach. The whole family, including my kids loved it!!! Will be adding this to our favorite soup list!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Love that, Chelsea!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  15. JENNYQUACK says:

    This is one of the best things I’ve ever made or eaten! I used a 16 oz.bag of chopped, frozen kale. I thought the lemon sounded weird, but it’s amazing! And this makes a ton, so I will freeze some and give some to family. Thanks for an awesome recipe using lots of staples, or easy substitutes.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So happy you loved it! It’s one of my very favorites!

  16. Jessica Flory says:

    This soup is absolutely amazing. I didn’t even have bacon and it was still FABULOUS!!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad you loved it, Jessica!! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  17. Nicole says:

    Thanks for the reminder of how good this soup is. I’ve made it before minus the lemon juice (I’m adding lemon juice this time). Perfect for a fall day.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Agreed! It’s one of our favorites!

  18. Christina says:

    Yum! Family loved this soup. Will definitely be adding this to.the recipe rotation.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Wahoo! Thanks for sharing this with us, Christina!

  19. Megan says:

    This soup is amazing. I love the combo of sausage with the creamy lemon and my entire family ate kale!! I made this in the instant pot using the slow cooker setting. Perfect because I could saute everything first and then let it cook all day. A new keeper in our household!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Wahoo! That’s so great to hear, Megan! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  20. Michelle says:

    Soooooooo delicious!!! Whipped this up while my kids were on their class zooms it was so quick. My kids are adventurous eaters so they didn’t think twice about the kale. I did however add pulled chicken meat to the recipe, my family loves a meaty soup!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Great addition! So glad you all loved it, Michelle!

  21. Amanda says:

    My favorite soup recipe this fall!! It’s quick to do, but building all the flavors up in the same pot made such a wonderful layered flavor. I haven’t ever used kale in soup before & now I’m hooked! Love love love!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Yay! That’s so great to hear, Amanda! Thank you for sharing this with us!