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!
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 vegan version is an incredibly delicious copycat option, but of course, veganized!
Is it healthy?
Zuppa Toscana is traditionally made using sausage and/or bacon, potatoes, kale and heavy cream or cheese, or sometimes both.
So, even though your classic version is quite heavy, and far from wholesome, this vegan zuppa Toscana is nutrient dense, healthy and totally drool-worthy!
Using soy curls to replace the fat filled bacon and white beans to give this soup its creaminess makes this soup heart healthy and low fat.
This vegan Tuscan soup is also gluten free, nut free, soy free if you skip the optional “bacon” and easily made without oil, too. Perfect for all kinds of eaters.
Is it spicy?
Typically, zuppa Toscana adds some type of heat element, and here I’m using chili flakes to achieve that.
If you’re not keen on spice, feel free to omit the chili flakes, but the small amount used here really adds to the flavour profile, so I do recommend using it.
How to make it
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Gather and prepare your ingredients.
Finely chop your onion and carrots and add them to your pot. Sauté until softened, about 2-3 minutes. (photos 1-2)
Then add the fennel and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so. (photos 3-4)
Now add the mushrooms and cook until reduced. (photos 5-6)
Then add all remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the beans. Cook at a low boil for 15-20 minutes. (photos 7-8)
While your soup is cooking, add the beans to your blender and puree them. Add a couple of tablespoons of water, as needed to get things moving. (photo 9)
Then, once the soup is cooked, pour the bean puree into your pot and mix well. (photos 10-11)
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 crumble, fresh parsley, extra chili flakes, and/or a squeeze of lemon juice.
How to make the soy curl bacon
I can’t take credit for this wonderful bacon crumble topping. But this crispy soy curl bacon recipe can be found here, created by my friend Lori at My Quiet Kitchen.
The soup tastes great with or without the “bacon”, BUT if you have the time to make it, I highly recommend doing so! Prep the bacon while you prep your vegetables, and bake them while your soup is cooking to save some time.
How long does it keep?
Store leftovers in a sealed container in your fridge for 3-4 days. This vegan zuppa Toscana tastes even better the next day once the flavours have blended together.
To freeze, make sure the soup is completely cooled and then store in an air tight, freezer safe container. Make sure to leave some room for expansion and keep frozen for up to 3 months.
Substitutions & Variations
- To make this vegan zuppa Toscana low carb, you may sub the potato for cauliflower florets.
- If you’re not a fan of kale, (although it does go perfectly with this soup) you may sub for spinach. Spinach cooks much faster than kale, so add it only in the last couple of 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 sub the beans for cashew cream (but it will be higher in calories and fat) or blended tofu.
- 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 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.
How to get 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, combine 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch or flour with the same amount 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, go for 2-3 tablespoons.
More delicious soup recipes
- Healthy Broccoli Potato Soup
- Easy Mushroom Barley Soup
- Vegan Chicken Soup w/ Jackfruit & Potato
- Vegetable Pot Pie Stew
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- 1 tbsp 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 tsp fennel seeds
- 5 cloves garlic peeled & minced
- 8 oz cremini or baby bella mushrooms sliced
- 1 lb yellow potatoes peeled & quartered
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes optional, but recommended
- 4 cups kale tough stems removed and chopped
- 15 oz can white kidney or cannellini beans drained & rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste
- croutons, fresh parsley, extra chili flakes or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- soy curl bacon link to the bacon recipe is in the notes below, or use another vegan bacon crumble, if preferred
- 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 topped with vegan bacon, if using, or any of your favourite soup toppings.