Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana

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Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana is a creamy rustic Italian soup loaded with spicy sausage, bacon, potatoes, and kale. Cooking the vegetables in the pressure cooker quickly tenderizes the spuds. A hearty homemade version of the Olive Garden Restaurant dish.

top down photo of zuppa toscana soup in a white bowl

Food from Tuscany is known for its rustic style of cooking. They are masters at combining fresh produce with cured meats that make each dish explode with flavor. For this Zuppa Toscana recipe, I turn to my trusty Instant Pot for a savory and hearty soup. This dish is a popular appetizer found on the Olive Garden restaurant menu, but it’s actually easy to make at home.

This recipe uses the saute and pressure setting on the Instant Pot to efficiently cook each ingredient. The various multi-cooker functions allow browning of the sausage and bacon, while rapidly softening the potatoes under pressure. This device creates layers of flavor and textures while maximizing taste with minimal effort. You’re going to love this soup as it packs in protein and vegetables with every bite. A satisfying Italian starter or meal.

sausage and onions sauteing in the instant pot

How to make Zuppa Toscana in the Instant Pot

  • Saute Italian sausage and bacon.
  • Saute onion and garlic.
  • Add in oregano, salt, pepper, and chili flakes.
  • Add potatoes and chicken stock
  • Pressure cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
  • Add chopped kale and cook until wilted.
  • Stir in heavy cream.

Why should you saute the sausage and bacon?

Sauteing the sausage and bacon before pressure cooking lightly browns the meat and renders the fat. This process generates new flavors and aromas due to the Maillard reaction. Melting some of the fat from the meat makes the texture less chewy. I highly recommend adding chopped crispy bacon on top of the soup as a garnish.

What type of potato do you use for Zuppa Toscana?

Starchy potatoes like Russets become tender and flakey when cooked. This ideal because some of the starchy particles disperse into the soup adding to the thickness. The pressure cooker rapidly cooks them in just 5 minutes, just enough time to soften the vegetable while keeping it in cubes that dissolve immediately in your mouth. If you’re looking to use a different type of potato I suggest red, white, or Yukon gold.

cubes of potatoes inside the Instant Pot

Make this on the stove-top

Cook the sausage and bacon over medium-high heat. Saute the onions, garlic, and seasoning over medium heat. Add the potatoes and stock, then simmer the soup until the potatoes are fork-tender. Wilt the kale in the hot stock, then turn off the heat and stir in the cream.

Make this in the slow cooker

Saute the sausage and bacon and drain off the excess grease. Saute the onions, garlic, and seasoning, then add the meat mixture, potatoes, and stock to the pot. Cook on “High” setting for 3 to 4 hours, or “Low” setting for 5 to 6 hours until the potatoes are tender. Add kale and cook on “High” setting for 30 minutes, then stir in the cream.

mixing kale into a zuppa toscana soup cooking in the instant pot

Can you make the soup less spicy?

Mild Italian sausage can be used instead of spicy to reduce the heat. The chili flakes can also be omitted and simply served on the side for those who like to control their spice level. The soup isn’t too spicy, but it does have a noticeable kick. I’m usually a mild-spice person and found that I could tolerate this soup just fine.

Can this be made keto?

Yes! Instead of potatoes, substitute chopped pieces of cauliflower for a low carb vegetable which has 4 grams carbohydrates per 100 grams (3 ½ ounces). Keep cooking times the same in the Instant Pot. Cauliflower is one of my favorite ways to reduce carbs like chopping up the florets to make faux rice.

What other vegetables can be used in the soup?

Spinach or Swiss chard are nutrient-dense leafy green alternatives to kale. Chopped zucchini or yellow summer squash can also add a pleasing texture. Stir these in before adding the cream. Beans like cannelloni or red kidney add extra creaminess, fiber, and protein. I recommend adding in drained canned legumes when you add in the kale.

close up photo showing zuppa toscana with pieces of bacon and kale on top

More soup recipes

How to prevent the cream from curdling

Add the cream after the soup has been pressure cooked to prevent the dairy from curdling. High temperatures upwards of 239 to 245ºF (115 to 118ºC) in the Instant Pot can make the proteins in the cream unstable, causing them to coagulate and look like little clumps of cottage cheese. Add the cream at the end of cooking with the pot turned off to keep the soup smooth.

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Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana

Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana is a creamy rustic Italian soup loaded with spicy sausage, bacon, potatoes, and kale. A popular dish at Olive Garden.
Pin Print Review
4.67 from 9 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage
  • 4 ounces bacon, 5 slices, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 4 cups chopped kale, ½-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions 

  • Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Allow time to heat, it will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready.
  • Add olive oil to the pot, once hot add the sausage with casings removed. Cook and break up into smaller pieces until no longer pink, 5 minutes.
  • Add bacon and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add onions and garlic, saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add oregano, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes, cook for 1 minute.
  • Add potatoes and chicken stock. Press "Keep/ Warm/Cancel" on the Instant Pot.
  • Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on, turn and lock.
  • Press "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 5 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons.
  • It will take about 15 minutes for the pot to heat and build up pressure. You will see steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
  • Once cook time is complete, quick-release of the pressure.
  • Use an oven mitt or towel to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to "Venting" position. The initial release will spray some moisture around so be careful.
  • Remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam releases from the pot.
  • Press "Keep/Warm/Cancel" on the Instant Pot. Select "Saute" setting.
  • Stir in the kale and cook until wilted, 2 minutes.
  • Press "Keep/ Warm/Cancel" on the Instant Pot. Stir in heavy cream. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and chili flakes as desired.

Equipment

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Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana
Amount Per Serving
Calories 623 Calories from Fat 441
% Daily Value*
Fat 49g75%
Saturated Fat 20g100%
Cholesterol 124mg41%
Sodium 941mg39%
Potassium 905mg26%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 19g38%
Vitamin A 595IU12%
Vitamin C 10.1mg12%
Calcium 67mg7%
Iron 2.3mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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6 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Jessica, Thank you Thank you so much for including the Keto option on the recipe. You are always so aware and thoughtful for various situations. One more of the many things I appreciate about you. I do like kale and my husband doesn’t but I try to work it in on dishes like this as he doesn’t notice it as much.
    Heading into the weekend here. Enjoy.
    Judy

  2. Cathy L Camp says

    I dont have an instant pot but I do have a little pressure cooker….will this be the same time to cook in my cooker? 5 minutes?

  3. JJ says

    This recipe looks AMAZING…especially for these very cold days! A real wholesome, stick-to-your-ribs soup that-seconds as a dinner.

  4. Anna says

    Such a great recipe. This is also excellent with gnocchi if you don’t have potatoes handy. Love your recipes and options within each. Getting use to my InstantPot and recipes like yours so easy to follow and delicious helps enormously, thank you.

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