Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

Seasonal Recipes, Soup and Stew, Winter Recipes | 15 comments

This Italian Sausage and Kale Soup recipe probably looks and sounds pretty familiar. Copycat versions of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana have been floating around the web for years. And it has always been a favorite soup of ours to make at home.

In the last 10 years since I began making this recipe, it has had its fair share of variations and changes according to our preferences.

One change from the typical is that I have started to use less half and half and more broth to lighten the recipe up a little. And for color I’ve added some red bell peppers.

Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

So it isn’t exactly like that Copycat Olive Garden Toscana Soup recipe that I first discovered as a newlywed and was so excited to make at home, but we still love it.

Even if it is a tad healthier, it still tastes rich to me.

I made this soup for dinner the first night that my sister was here after her move to Colorado back in October. She loved it and now requests it all the time.

Just this Sunday evening when I asked if anyone had requests for dinner during the next week she said: That Sausage and Kale Soup!

I laugh every time she asks for it because it is still a novelty to her, but over the years Italian Sausage and Kale Soup has become an old favorite standby recipe in our home.

Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

I almost always have all of the ingredients in my homemade version of Zuppa Toscana on hand, and it isn’t complicated or labor intensive to prepare. Perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends!

We have probably had this recipe about 3 times in the last couple months since she moved here. Sometimes I add extra kale depending on how much we have, sometimes I don’t.

Most often I don’t really need the recipe anymore. It doesn’t always turn out exactly the same every single time, but Italian Sausage and Kale Soup always tastes good regardless if there is more kale than normal – especially when shared with family on a cold winter evening – our high is a whopping 17 degrees F tomorrow.

What are your favorite tried and true standby recipes?

Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

Yield: serves 4 - 6

Total Time: 45 minutes

Print Save Recipe


18 ounces Mild or Sweet Italian Sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional - if you like garlic!
8 - 10 red potatoes, cut into approx. 1 inch cubes
5 cups Chicken Broth
3 cups half and half
1 - 2 bunches kale, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste


In a cast iron skillet or sauté pan, brown the Italian sausage in the casings. Once they are browned on all sides and cooked through, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest until cool enough to handle without burning your hands. Once they are cool enough to handle, slice into rounds between 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick (depending on your preference).

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium heat, or until tender and golden. Add the bell pepper and garlic and sauté for a couple more minutes, until fragrant.

To the same pot add the potatoes, broth, half and half, and sausage. Cook over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the temperature to medium-low to low and simmer until the potatoes reach your desired tenderness - approximately 15 - 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in the chopped kale and cook until just wilted. Serve immediately and top with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.


The great thing about recipes like this is you can always change them up according to your preference.

If you don't like kale, you can try swiss chard. If you want more (or less) potatoes, you can adjust that too.

If you need a vegetarian soup, you can omit the sausage, sub the chicken broth for vegetable broth and increase the vegetables. Maybe you really like mushrooms, you could try adding some sautéed mushrooms to the mix.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    megan @ whatmegansmaking - January 14, 2013 @ 4:44 am

    I love that you made it a little healthier! That is something I need these days :)


  • 2
    Ginger - January 14, 2013 @ 5:42 am

    This sounds wonderful. A great way to get my fam to eat kale! Have you ever tried using fat free evaporated milk in place of cream? I wonder if it would give you the creamy feel with out the calories? I have thought about it, but haven’t tried it yet.


  • 3
    Bev @ Bev Cooks - January 14, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    Ya-ES. Omlawd.


  • 4
    Cassie | Bake Your Day - January 14, 2013 @ 8:18 am

    I love the sound of this soup! And a little healthier never hurt anyone…it looks like it’s still full of flavor!


  • 5
    Souj - January 14, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

    Wondering if half and half can be replaced with a combination of cream and milk?


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — January 14th, 2013 @ 6:18 PM

      Probably, though I have no tried that yet.

  • 6
    Loraine - January 15, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    Looks wonderful, can’t wait to try it.


  • 7
    Lea - January 16, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

    I thought Iinvented this! Only I put mushrooms and LOTS of fresh garlic (like 2 bulbs sometimes) and omit the potatoes half and half. One of my very favorite soups!


  • 8
    angela jones - January 22, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    I use spicy Chicken Sausage not as much fat as Italian sausage


  • 9
    Jeremy - January 26, 2013 @ 4:37 am

    I have this when usually at Olive Garden, Now I’m making my own using your recipe. Your’s looks very good…have to try it…Thanks Katie.


  • 10
    Emily - February 18, 2013 @ 10:05 am

    This sounds yummy and can easily adaptable for what’s in the kitchen… I’m going to give this a whirl tonight except sub coconut milk for 1/2 and 1/2 for us lactose intolerant folks in my house :) Looking forward to giving it a shot!


  • 11
    Shari - February 18, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    This was great! Everyone loved it. I used heavy cream instead of 1/2 & 1/2. The sprinkling of Parmesan cheese at the end made it over the top!


  • 12
    Karen - February 24, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    I have made a copycat recipe for years that uses 8 cups of chix broth and 1 cup of 1/2 and 1/2. I liked the above recipe but found the red peppers really changed the flavor from the original olive garden zuppa toscana. Omit the red peppers and it will taste more like the original. They also add crushed red pepper to original recipe, so I always add 1 tsp. crushed red pepper or 1 1/2 tsp. if I want a bit of zip to it. You really have to add salt to make it taste original. Olive Gardens of course has alot of salt added. Not good for our health but good for our tummy!!


  • 13
    Erin - March 13, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

    Oh my! I just served this for dinner and it was fabulous. Thank you so much for the recipe. I’ll be tucking this one away for future uses. Like other posts, I used a combination of milk and heavy cream instead of half and half because that’s what I had in the fridge.


  • 14
    Morgan Greenwood - December 26, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

    If you’re looking to cut the calories, use milk instead of half and half, and then use an immersion blender to cream the potatoes, onions and garlic. Add the peppers, sausage and kale (after sauteeing peppers + sausage), and you have an incredibly creamy soup with waaaay fewer calories!


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