Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana » Joyful Thrifty Home
Sep 172013

zuppa toscana slow cooker recipe

It’s that time of year when soups, chili and all sorts of warm comfort foods begin to invade my kitchen! I welcomed the cool weather recently by breaking out my crock-pot and making a batch of this hearty and delicious soup.

If you have ever been to Olive Garden, you  have probably heard of their well-known Zuppa Toscana. Whenever I go with my husbands parents, his dad orders this soup. He likes it so much, that he’s gotten just soup for dinner. He ate two or three bowls of course.

When I came across a recipe a couple of years ago I knew I needed to give it a try. I also loved that I could do a bit of prep work and let it cook in the crock-pot for a few hours without having to watch it. It was a huge hit with my husband and his dad so I have made it quite a few times since then.

At first it was a bit spicy for me. I think I may have gotten a little heavy-handed on the red pepper flakes. But I have since been getting used to spicier foods and I make sure to measure out the red pepper so it doesn’t get too overpowering. I guess you can say that this soup was a game changer for me. I had never used kale or red pepper flakes before and now I put them in anything I can!

zuppa in the crockpot

My crock-pot full of soup about to get cooking!

A few tips:
  • As I mentioned above, the red pepper flakes can easily overpower the soup making it quite spicy. If you like that  then by all means add  more than my suggested amount. I do recommend putting in at least a little bit in even if you think you don’t like spiciness as it does add to the flavor.
  • I chop my kale into rather small pieces because I don’t like chewing on large pieces of greens. This is totally a preference thing so chop however small you wish. And speaking of kale, just use the leaves not the stalks.
  • The original recipe called for about 10 more ounces of chicken broth but it was easier to just buy a 32 ounce carton and I was happy with the results of this amount of liquid. Feel free to adjust this to your liking.

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Author: Ashley l

Adapted: adapted from Farm Girl Recipes (inspired by the Ol

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

This Olive Garden inspired soup is hearty and delicious with just the right amount of spice.


  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage
  • 1 small-medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves (or about 1 teaspoon) minced garlic
  • 4-5 cups chopped kale (about one bunch)
  • 8-10 strips of bacon, cooked and crisp then crumbled
  • 32 oz chicken broth (homemade or low sodium)
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • Freshly grated (or shredded) Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Crumble sausage and cook over medium-high heat in a skillet on the stove. Add minced onion to the sausage a few minutes into cooking. Once meat is mostly browned, add garlic. Continue cooking until meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
  2. Drain the meat of any excess grease.
  3. Pour chicken broth and heavy cream into a large slow cooker (at least 6 quarts). Add kale, bacon, ground sausage with onion and garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover and cook on high for about three hours.
  5. Scrub potatoes and cut into bite sized cubes with the skins on. Place potatoes into slow cooker and cook for another 40-60 minutes or until potatoes are for tender.
  6. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

There you have it! A perfect slow cooker meal to enjoy as it starts to get cooler outside. Don’t forget the yummy bread to go along with it too!

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About the Author

Ashley has been happily married to her husband since July 2010. She is a thrifty girl at heart with a bit of a crafty side. She is also a once disaster in the kitchen turned aspiring home chef. She loves coffee and herbal tea and is a self proclaimed library nerd. But her real passions are encouraging others in their Christian faith and to show people that it is possible to live well even if you are on a tight budget.

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  24 Responses to “Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana”

  1. Great looking recipe! Never had it before, but sounds like something I’d like to try. Just a note this recipe would be gluten free as long as all ingredients (i.e. chicken broth & sausage) are gluten free :-) I pinned this to my board to make it Paleo – I think it could be done fairly easily :-) I let you know if I try it for next months meal plan!
    Crystal @ recently posted…Journey to Paleo – Part 3 Gluten-FreeMy Profile

  2. This looks so yummy! And I love slow cooker recipes. :-)
    Carrie recently posted…Baby B. #2!My Profile

  3. This looks wonderful! Thank you for linking up at Great Tastes Tuesday!

  4. I love this soup – I make it at least once a week in my slow cooker.

    Stopping by from Good Tastes Tuesday! Thanks for coming by and linking up this week.
    Sherryl Wilson recently posted…Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation CookiesMy Profile

  5. […] day.  3. Happy Fall Y’all!  4. Studying Mark with my ladies.  5. Kale in the crock pot (zuppa toscana)  6. Warding off the ran-out-of-chocolate blues with maple popcorn during afternoon quiet time. […]

  6. […] of my own recipes are a part of this set, including the recipe for slow cooker zuppa toscana and two never before published recipes. My zuppa toscana post has been the most popular post on the […]

  7. This recipe was fantastic! This is the only thing that kept me going to Olive Garden, and I now have no reason to go back! :)
    I put the potatoes in at the beginning and cooked on low for 5 hours. It was awesome! Thanks for sharing!

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  16. Thank you for this awesome recipe! My husband and grown boys devoured it!

  17. […] made a lot of new recipes and even created some of my own. In fact my most popular post is for my Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana. I plan to utilize my slow cooker more often as well do some freezer cooking this […]

  18. […] Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana from Joyful Thrifty Home […]

  19. This is very close to my recipe for our families favorite soup, but I’ve never tried it in the crock pot! Thanks for the recipe, I will give it a try and have a non rushed meal, yeah! You look like an amazing woman, thanks for sharing your page with us!

  20. […] or only used a recipe as written, I never would have discovered some of my favorite recipes like zuppa toscana, chicken fried rice or skillet […]

  21. Do you know about how many people this makes for? I want to make it for a group of 12 do you think this will be enough for that? Thanks!

    • Angela, It could make enough for 12 if you plan to have some other sides with it like salad and bread. I’m not sure it would make 12 large servings but it does make a lot. I usually fill my 6 qt slow cooker with it.

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