Zuppa Toscana Soup {A Lighter Version}

I love soup.  Seriously. LOVE. So when Old Man Winter knocks on my door, I head to the kitchen to heat things up!

It’s a “thing” I have, this obsession of good soups.  Happily, my husband shares my love of soup. In fact, he is the driving force behind most of my obsessive behavior.  😉

 Years ago, my husband and I discovered this delicious winter soup when we were invited out to Olive Garden with friends.  Jay looked at me over his soup spoon with this sort of  “If you will make this soup for me I will think you are even more amazing than I already do” look in his eyes … and with incentive like that, I had to figure out how to make my own version.  I figured it would save us some money too while allowing us to stay snuggly warm at home with our soup.

I worked hard to lose about 30 pounds two years ago, so I’ve lightened this up just a bit to cut out calories and fat … but really … you can’t skimp on things like bacon and sausage and still keep the wonderful flavor of this yummy winter soup.  Mostly what I did to cut calories was skip the butter and use regular 2% milk with half and half instead of heavy cream.

I like to get bacon at the local butcher shop if I remember. 🙂  This is the key for me. (The remembering part, that is.)  Tonight we were lucky to have peppered bacon from our local butcher.  ‘nuf said.  YUM.

I use about this much bacon when I make my sausage, kale and potato yumminess.

Bacon is one of my love languages.  I don’t know why BACON is not in “that” Love Languages book.  Anyway.

This is about enough for a batch of soup that feeds my tribe of ten.

I cut it into bite size pieces and cook it while the water is heating up in the stock pot.

Cook up some Italian sausage. I did two pounds for my purposes.  (I feed 10 and I want leftovers for lunch the next day).  Two pounds is perfect.  Drain off the grease  and set it aside.

While your sausage is cooking … rinse and tear a bunch of kale into bite-size pieces. Set it aside.  You won’t need to add it until the very end.

BONUS… this stuff is really good for you
5 quarts of chicken stock


Saute onions and garlic before adding potatoes


I made this last night in the MIDDLE of all the Un-decorating FALL and finding Christmas decoration madness.  AND did I mention I am potty training our almost two-year-old.

My pictures reflect this.  Do NOT use the pot I’m using for your soup.  When I’m thinking, I do everything in my stock pot.  But whatever.  This still worked. It just made my life a teensy bit harder than it had to be.

Add red pepper flakes and your cooked bacon and sauté the potatoes until they are just a little on the brown side.  YUM. Man, this smells good.

Saute potatoes with onions and garlic until they look the way you like 'em

When they look and smell irresistable, you’re ready to pour the chicken stock in.

Add your cooked italian sausage.

Add 2 cups half and half and 1 cup 2% milk.
Heavy cream in you would rather be naughty than nice. 🙂

Add your kale and cream at the end and simmer, adjusting flavors as you go.  (You know, a sip for you, a sip for your friends, a sip for your husband, etc.)

Here’s the recipe, all summed up and pretty for you “print in out and post it” people..

Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

  • 1 bunch of kale, rinsed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • bacon, cut up and cooked (about as much as you see in the photo above)
  • 3 large russet potatoes (about enough for six cups), peeled with some skin left on
  • 2 pounds Italian sausage
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • 5 quarts chicken stock (remember I feed a tribe!)
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • pepper to taste

Put chicken broth on stove to simmer.
Cook bacon. Drain and set aside.
Cook sausage. While sausage is cooking, rinse and prepare kale. Set aside.
Drain sausage. Set aside. Drain grease but leave the pan as is, you’ll love the flavor it will give the onions.
Saute onions and garlic in  same pan you just cooked bacon and sausage in.
When onions are slightly browned and soft, add red pepper flakes, bacon and potatoes.
Cook until potatoes are slightly browned.
Add chicken stock. DO NOT BOIL. It makes the potatoes mushy.  And nobody wants that.
When potatoes are soft (not mushy), add the cream, milk and kale.

Simmer, adjusting flavors as you go.
Serve with warm, rustic garlic bread… you’ll be glad you did.

Gather ’round the dinner table and enjoy!



About Heidi St. John

Heidi has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children and three grandchildren! The St. Johns homeschooled their kids all the way through high school. Heidi is the the author of seven books, host of the popular podcast "Off the Bench," and the founder of MomStrong International, an online community of women learning God's Word and how to apply it to every day life. She and her husband Jay are also the founders of Firmly Planted Family and the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center, located in Vancouver, Washington.

10 thoughts on “Zuppa Toscana Soup {A Lighter Version}

  1. Looks yummy. We’ve been making “zuppa” (as we call it) for a few years now. I’ve never browned the potatoes, sounds extra yummy! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing this recipe! My husband LOVES this soup as well and always orders it whenever we get to eat out at Olive Garden. I’m excited to surprise him with it for dinner 🙂

  3. Hi Heidi,

    We met at the HSLDA leaders conference in Orlando. It was fun! Don’t worry about remembering me….it was brief and I said something wity about your shoes! (At least, I hope it was witty :p)

    Loved the posts about the soup and the dinner table. I made this the other night and we loved it. I had to make some adjustments because we have diary allergies. It was still yummy. Leftovers were non-existing here!

    Have a great weekend,
    Mary W.

    1. Hi Mary! I do remember you 🙂 Most people don’t make witty shoe comments right off the bat, so we shall get along famously. 😉 So glad you enjoyed the soup. I’m not sure if it’s good that you didn’t have leftovers though … they are sure helpful the next day, LOL! Merry Christmas!

  4. I had no idea you were to Martha Stewartish. Look at you, posting frying pan pictures on your blog! You go girl.
    I’ll be driving by your place and waving in a few days… leave your windows open and we can obnoxiously honk too! :o)
    Happy New Year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *