Rich potatoes, kale, and mushrooms, together with toasted fennel seeds, and a silky, garlicky, slightly spicy broth makes this vegan Zuppa Toscana an unforgettable one.
This recipe was originally published in December 2020. It has been updated for content, photos, and video.
If you’ve never heard of Zuppa Toscana before, it literally translates to Tuscan soup. There is much debate over whether this soup originates in Tuscany, Italy, or at the American restaurant chain, Olive Garden.
Others say (including my Italian family) that it’s a spin on Tuscany’s classic ribollita soup.
I won’t pretend to know better than others, but either way, this version is an incredibly delicious copycat, but of course, it’s been veganized. 😉
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I just made this today and it’s absolutely fantastic!! I did not change one single ingredient …it’s perfect! – Kristine
Is it healthy?
Zuppa Toscana is traditionally made using Italian sausage crumbles and/or bacon, potatoes, kale, heavy cream or cheese, or sometimes both.
The classic version is heavy, with high-fat ingredients, and far from wholesome. However, this vegan Zuppa Toscana is nutrient-dense, FAR healthier, and totally drool-worthy!
I’m using blended white beans for their creaminess so there’s no need to add any dairy or coconut milk, making this soup heart-healthy and low-fat.
This vegan Tuscan soup is naturally gluten-free, nut-free, and soy free. Plus, it can be easily made oil-free, making it suitable for a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet, too.
Is it spicy?
Zuppa Toscana normally has a touch of heat in it, so I’m using red chili flakes to add a spicy flavour.
If you’re not keen on spice, you may omit the chili flakes. However, if you can tolerate it, use the small amount recommended to really amp up the flavour profile.
Ingredients + Substitutions
Here’s everything you’ll need to make our vegan Zuppa Toscana.
- Onion + carrots: Adds a slight sweetness and flavour. I like yellow or white onion, but you may use any variety.
- Fennel seeds: I highly recommend you do not omit the fennel seeds, as they add a delicious flavour to the soup that mimics the flavour you’d have from Italian sausage normally present in Zuppa Toscana.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic whenever possible as the flavour cannot be compared to garlic powder.
- Mushrooms: I like baby bella or cremini mushrooms, but other varieties also work well.
- Potatoes: I like the creaminess of yellow or Yukon Gold potatoes, but you may also try russet potatoes, or whatever you have on hand.
- Kale: Kale holds up well in this soup, but if you prefer, you may sub with another leafy green such as rapini, swiss chard, or spinach. However, if using one of these, add it only in the last few minutes of cooking.
- Spices: Parsley, oregano, and red pepper flakes add depth of flavour. You may adjust to your taste.
- Broth: Use a flavourful broth, or try my homemade bouillon powder mixed with water.
- White beans: I like the creaminess of white cannellini beans, but you may use whatever you have on hand.
(This is a summary with step-by-step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Sauté the onion and carrots in a large pot on the stovetop. (photo 1)
Add the fennel and garlic, followed by the mushrooms. (photos 2)
Add all remaining ingredients, except the beans, and simmer. (photo 3)
Meanwhile, blend the white beans in a small blender. (photo 4)
Add the bean puree to your pot of soup. (photo 5)
Stir to evenly distribute and serve. (photo 6)
NOTE: This will make your soup creamy, without using heavy cream, and will amp up the protein content at the same time.
Serve your vegan Zuppa Toscana with croutons, vegan “bacon”, fresh parsley, extra chili flakes, and/or a squeeze of lemon juice.
For the optional vegan sausage or bacon topping
I have a few options to share for the bacon topping.
- My first option is our pecan bacon topping.
- You may also try our soy curl “pancetta” that we use in our vegan carbonara.
- The third is this soy curl bacon created by my friend Lori at My Quiet Kitchen.
The soup tastes great with or without the “bacon”. But, if you have time to make one, I highly recommend doing so. 🙂
Store leftovers in a sealed container in your fridge for 3-4 days.
PS. This vegan Zuppa Toscana tastes even better the next day!
To freeze, make sure the soup is completely cooled and then store it in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Make sure to leave some room for expansion and keep frozen for up to 3 months.
- To make this vegan Zuppa Toscana lower in carbs or calories, you may use cauliflower florets instead of potatoes.
- If you’re not a fan of kale, (although it does go perfectly with this soup) you may use another leafy green, like spinach. Spinach cooks much faster than kale, so add it only in the last few minutes, or once the soup is cooked. The residual heat is enough to wilt the spinach.
- Any variety of white beans will work, including kidney/cannellini, navy/pea, great northern beans, or butterbeans. Or you may use cashew cream made from raw cashews (but it will be higher in calories and fat) or blended tofu to replace the beans if preferred.
For a thicker vegan Zuppa Toscana
Tuscan soup is traditionally made with a thin, creamy broth, but if you prefer it thicker, you may mash some of the potatoes, or add a cornstarch or flour slurry in the last 5-8 minutes of cooking.
To make a slurry, add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch OR flour with equal parts of cold water in a small bowl. Mix well and then add to your soup.
NOTE: Cornstarch has about twice the thickening power of flour. So if you’re using flour, try 2-3 tablespoons.
- For no oil, sauté the veggies in water or broth, adding a little more, as needed to prevent sticking.
- Don’t skip the fennel! It’s a small amount, but it makes a big difference in the overall flavour profile.
- If you do not have a kitchen scale to weigh your potatoes, use about 3-4 medium potatoes, or 1-2 large.
More delicious vegan soup recipes
If you tried this recipe, please let me know about it in the comments below. I always love hearing from you! Don’t forget to Subscribe to This Healthy Kitchen to be among the first to get my new recipes! You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to see more delicious food and get all the latest updates.
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or your choice omit for oil free and sauté with water or broth
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 5 cloves garlic peeled & minced
- 8 ounce cremini or baby bella mushrooms sliced
- 1 pound yellow potatoes peeled & quartered
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional, but recommended
- 4 cups kale tough stems removed and chopped
- 15 ounce can white kidney or cannellini beans drained & rinsed
- salt + pepper to taste
- croutons, fresh parsley, extra chili flakes or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- vegan bacon bits
- Add the oil (if using) to your pot and heat over medium/high heat. Then add the onion and carrot and sauté until softened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Now add the fennel seeds to lightly toast them along with the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (Add more water or broth as needed to prevent sticking if you're skipping the oil.) Then add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until reduced, approx. 2-3 minutes.
- Add all remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the beans and cook at a low boil for 15-20 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, puree your beans in a blender, adding a few tablespoons of water, if needed to get things moving. Then pour the blended beans into your cooked soup and mix well. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve with toppings of your choice.
It literally translates to “Tuscan soup”.
Yes, the classic version has meat. However, my vegan Zuppa Toscana is meat-free, while resembling the flavours of the sausage/bacon typically added to this soup.