Once you try this vegan Zuppa Toscana, it’s gonna be hard to stop after one bowl! It’s hearty, creamy (but not as heavy as a chowder), super easy to make, and overall just the perfect thing to whip up when you’re craving something cozy. It’s delicious year-round, but especially when the cooler months roll around, this soup gets a lot of love in our dinner rotation.
What is Zuppa Toscana?
Tuscany is a region in Northwest Italy, and “Zuppa Toscana” translates simply to “Tuscan Soup.” This dish was popularized in the US by Olive Garden, where it consists of onion and garlic, Italian sausage, chunky potatoes, and kale in a creamy broth. It’s served topped with crispy bacon crumbles and fresh parmesan. Luckily it’s easier than ever to make your own Vegan Zuppa Toscana with a few simple plant-based substitutions!
Ingredients for Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- Vegan Italian sausage. Our favorite is the Beyond Meat Hot Italian sausage, which can be found at many grocery chains these days in the regular meat section. The Spicy Impossible Sausage is another option. If you’re looking for a lower-fat alternative, you can look for the Lightlife Gimme Lean Sausage (though this is not an Italian-style sausage, so you may want to add in some Italian herbs for extra flavor).
- Onion and garlic. I use a whole head of garlic for this recipe! If you’re not as obsessed with garlic, feel free to use just a few cloves. But since this is such a simple recipe, I love using plenty of onion and garlic for flavor.
- Vegetable broth. To really boost the umami in this Vegan Zuppa Toscana, I like to use vegan chicken-style bouillon cubes. My go-to brand is Edward and Sons as they’re affordable and available at stores like Kroger or Sprouts. You could also use Better Than Bouillon vegan chicken-style broth. Regular vegetable broth will work too.
- Potatoes. Yukon gold will work best in this recipe because they are waxier, so they will hold their shape better. Russets have a tendency to disintegrate in soups.
- Kale. Give it a thorough wash, then remove the rough stalks and chop or tear into pieces. If you aren’t a fan of kale, feel free to add in some fresh spinach instead.
- Vegan heavy cream. My preferred heavy cream substitute for soups and other savory dishes is homemade cashew cream. Simply blend 1/2 cup of raw cashews (soaked 4+ hours or boiled 10 minutes) with 3/4 cup water until smooth. If you are looking for a store-bought version, you can try the Country Crock Plant Cream or the Silk Dairy-Free Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative.
How to Make Vegan Zuppa Toscana
Step 1: Prepare your vegan heavy cream. If you plan to use homemade cashew cream as your heavy cream substitute, prepare that before you get cooking. All you have to do is blend soaked raw cashews with water until smooth. Otherwise, there are a few nondairy cream alternatives on the market to try!
Step 2: Brown the vegan Italian sausage. Pan fry the vegan sausage over medium-high heat. If using sausage links, break them up with your spoon so you have nicely browned crumbles. Then remove the sausage to a paper towel lined plate to blot the excess grease.
Step 3: Sauté the onion and garlic. If you are cooking with Beyond Meat Italian Sausage, it will generally produce enough grease for you to sauté your aromatics in. If needed, you can add in an extra drizzle of olive oil. Add in onion and sauté until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add in garlic and sauté for another minute.
Step 4: Cook the potatoes. Add in your vegetable broth, potatoes, and bay leaf. Simmer the potatoes until tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Step 5: Wilt the kale. Stir in the kale and allow it to simmer for a few minutes, until wilted and tender. You can add on extra cook-time here as needed if you like your kale to be very soft.
Step 6: Add vegan sausage and heavy cream. Stir back in the cooked vegan sausage and vegan heavy cream substitute and cook to heat everything through.
Step 7: Serve. Ladle yourself a cozy bowl of Vegan Zuppa Toscana. Top with optional vegan parmesan and crumbled vegan bacon and dig in!
Whole Foods Plant Based Version
If you want to enjoy this cozy dish but prefer not to cook with processed vegan products, no worries! This vegan Zuppa Toscana would be delicious prepared instead with cannellini beans (drain and rinse them first), chopped mushrooms, or canned lentils. You could even use a combination of these ingredients to get the protein from the beans and the extra umami flavor of the mushrooms. I would recommend adding in about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning if you are leaving out the vegan Italian sausage.
Reheating and Storage
We usually devour any leftovers within a day or two — it’s that good! It will keep in the fridge up to 5 days, and is easily reheated in a small pot over medium heat, or in the microwave.
In the freezer, vegan Zuppa Toscana will keep up to 3 months. The texture of the potatoes tends to change a little when frozen and defrosted (they start to fall apart a little), but the soup will still be delicious.
Looking for More Cozy Dinner Recipes?
Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- 1 large stockpot or Dutch oven
- 1 package (400g) vegan hot Italian sausage such as Beyond Meat
- 1 head garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 6 cups vegetable broth (see notes)
- 4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped (or sub spinach)
- 1 cup cashew cream or vegan heavy cream substitute (see notes)
- vegan parmesan-style shreds such as Follow Your Heart or Violife
- vegan bacon crumbles
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown vegan Italian sausage, breaking it up into crumbles. Remove cooked sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Add diced onion to pot and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. (If the brand of vegan sausage you're using is lower in fat, you can drizzle in some olive oil to sauté. For brands like Beyond Meat you can simply sauté in the drippings.)
- Add in minced garlic and sauté for about a minute.
- Add in the cubed potatoes, vegetable broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low/medium-low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
- Stir in chopped kale and simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes, until wilted and tender. (If using spinach instead, add in the next step.)
- Stir in vegan sausage crumbles and vegan heavy cream. Bring the soup to a very gentle boil for about a minute to heat everything through. Taste and season to preference with salt and pepper. (How much salt will depend on your brand of vegetable broth.)
- Garnish with fresh parsley, vegan parmesan, and optional vegan bacon crumbles. Serve with crusty bread.
- Store bought options: Country Crock Plant Cream or Silk Dairy-Free Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative.
- Homemade option (my preferred): 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 4+ hours or boiled ~10 minutes, blended with 3/4 cup water until smooth.