The Best Soul-Warming Soup for a Gloomy Day
When you look up a recipe for “Zuppa Toscana,” I can guarantee that most of them will boast a copycat version of Olive Garden’s dish. I’ve never had this soup from Olive Garden, but when it decided to rain last weekend, soup was definitely going on the menu.
My brother has made his own zuppa toscana, and I’ve watched enough cooking shows to get the general idea — chopped kale, white beans, some form of tomato sauce, and meat. It’s the perfect, hearty soup for a cold day, and with a toasty slice of Italian bread, it can’t get much better! I wanted to use my current knowledge of the soup to make my own, as opposed to adapting someone else’s recipe, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out! Like the Flame Broiler copycat bowl I made earlier this month, this soup is definitely going in my winter meal rotation.
Like most soups, this one starts with a good ol’ mirepoix, the fancy French word for the flavor base of a dish. It’s just some diced onions, carrots, and celery that’s sauteed in some oil before you add in the other main ingredients (and garlic — always add garlic). A traditional zuppa toscana has sausage and a form of bacon, but I wanted to keep it somewhat lighter and swap vegan bacon for mushrooms. You don’t even have to include the sausage, but I really enjoy the Tofurkey Italian sausage.
I use a really tasty and creamy vegan protein broth from Walmart, so I have the broth part and cream part taken care of. But since I never have white wine on hand, I just use more broth for deglazing the pot and getting all those tasty bits stuck to the bottom. I put some water, cannellini beans, fresh thyme, chopped kale, a little bit of tomato sauce, some potatoes, mushrooms, and sausage in there with a few other seasonings to taste.
This has definitely become one of my soup staples after how easy and delicious it is. Zuppa toscana has so many different elements, textures, and flavors, that just warm you right up.
Vegan Zuppa Toscana Recipe
Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup cream *I used a creamy vegan broth, but you can use plant-based milk, cashew cream, etc
- ½ cup water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ⅓ onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 2 vegan sausages, sliced
- 2 small/medium potatoes, sliced
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chopped kale, stems removed
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- chili flakes
- Italian seasoning
- 1 Italian loaf, warmed and toasted in the oven
- In a pan on medium heat, saute mushrooms until caramelized. Remove and set aside
- In a large pot, add your oil and heat on medium. Put the onion, carrot, and celery in the oil to soften
- Once the onion is fragrant and the carrots and celery are soft, add the garlic and seasonings
- Pour the vegetable broth over the veggies, along with the cream and water. Mix well
- Add sliced potatoes, cannellini beans, and vegan sausage to the broth. Cover until it's reached a rolling boil
- Once the soup is boiling, turn the heat to low and add the mushrooms and fresh thyme. Add the kale, mix, and simmer for 10-15 minutes
- Check that the potatoes are soft (a fork or knife should easily slip through each slice). Give it another stir and turn off the heat
- Serve with a toasted slice of Italian loaf (optional), and enjoy!
- If using vegan bacon, prepare and add it to the soup as you would the mushrooms
- If you use dried thyme instead of fresh, add it with the rest of the seasonings
- You can separately cook the sausages before adding it to the soup if you want them crisped up, just add them in at the very end to retain most of that texture