Today is a glorious Monday, my friends! BECAUSE we are making Zuppa Toscana Soup! You know, like from Olive Garden? Only this copycat version is DAIRY FREE!!! There might be a lot of ALL CAPS in this post today, just so EXCITED! Okay, I’ll stop….for now. Fair warning!
You can’t blame me though. I meeean look at all that lovely green kale and those starchy potatoes and that creamy goodness!! Swoon!
Growing up I spent a lot of time eating at Olive Garden, it was the only “kind of” fancy restaurant in my home town. The other fancy restaurant was REALLY fancy. So a lot of special occasions and all of the school dances were celebrated at Olive Garden – I know their Zuppa Toscana soup well! The spicy Italian sausage, the slightly wilted kale, the starchy potatoes, the creamy and spicy broth. I think I overdid it on Olive Garden when I was younger because I haven’t been there in years – I still remember exactly what their soup tastes like. Guys I nailed it with this Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana Soup! I even had two friend who have been waiters at Olive Garden try my soup and they said my version was better! We played a little game of “guess what the secret ingredient is” as they took their first few bites. They never did guess what makes this soup dairy free – cashew cream! YES!!! My beloved cashew cream strikes again – OBSESSED! That cashew cream is such a simple swap for regular cow’s cream but the difference is undetectable. Cashew cream FTW!!!
Side story about Olive Garden that I have to share. Like I said before I ate at Olive Garden a lot growing up. In fact my parents and I would go out to eat with our good family friends all of the time when I was little. Once we put the order in for our food my friend and I would excuse ourselves to the bathroom and go play in the stalls for WAY too long, our food was usually waiting for us when we returned to the table. We would play house and make farting noises with our hands while people were using the bathroom – we thought we were so cool and not obnoxious at all! We never got into trouble until that one time an employee came in and yelled at us and threatened to tell our parents. THAT moment put an end to our bathroom play time, at least at Olive Garden. My friend and I finally confessed to our parents several years ago about our Olive Garden adventures, they claim they had no idea we did this – but come on they had to have known we weren’t just going to the bathroom. So now that I’ve embarrassed myself, back to Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana Soup.
What’s great about Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana Soup is that it only requires 10 ingredients and is incredibly easy to make: brown up some sausage, saute and onion and garlic, boil potatoes in chicken broth while you blend up the cashew cream. Once the potatoes are done stir in the kale and the cashew cream, and the cooked sausage – only 35 minutes later and dinner is served!!! We enjoyed this soup as our main meal with a simple side salad. Some gluten free bread for dipping is never a bad idea! I know you will love this Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana Soup. It’s hearty, comforting, slightly spicy, and perfectly creamy.
Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana Soup just might be one of my favorite soups I have made for the blog – because nostalgia. AND maybe because of cashew cream – that is all!
Want more dairy free and gluten free soups in your life? Try my Dairy Free Salmon Chowder, Creamy Mushroom Soup, Thai Sweet Potato Soup with shrimp, or Lentil Turkey Chili. Eat em’ up while it’s still soup season! 😉
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound Hot Italian Sausage
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning + ½ teaspoon fennel seeds*
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 3 Yukon gold potatoes, chopped (1½ cups)
- 4 cups curly kale, stemmed and chopped
- ½ cup raw cashews soaked for 8 hours (or for 1 hour in very hot water)
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- red pepper flakes to taste
- salt to taste
- Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Warm the oil and add the sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage. Add the salt and Italian seasoning and fennel seeds, cook until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage, leaving behind at least a tablespoon of the grease. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Saute for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic, saute for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the chicken stock and potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- While the soup is simmering make the cashew cream: Drain the cashews and add them to a blender along with the ¾ cup chicken stock. Blend on high until completely smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are done cooking turn the heat to medium and stir in the cashew cream and the kale. Allow the kale to slightly wilt, about 1 minute.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve immediately. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
You could add in Parmesan cheese, although the recipe won't be dairy free. We tried it both ways and didn't miss it without the Parmesan cheese.
Prep time does not include time required for the cashews to soak.