Italian Potato-Sausage Soup

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This creamy, comforting soup is a healthier copycat of the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden.  The popular original soup is loaded with bacon, cheese, and cream (no wonder why it’s so good!) but my lighter version delivers big on flavor, while saving on fat and calories.  This recipe is also featured in our bestselling Healthy Cook Book 400 Calories or Less by Our Best Bites

healthy copycat recipe Olive garden Soup

Sara and I have talked a lot about how much we love the magazine Cooking Light. One of the things that is so appealing to me about their recipes is that it’s more like “cooking lighter”–no artificial sweeteners instead of sugar or black bean purees instead of chocolate; they use real ingredients to make real food, and while they may not always be 200 calories or less or completely carb-free, the recipes teach you how to make some of your favorite naughtier foods, only healthier (and often tastier). (By the way, this is totally starting to sound like an ad for Cooking Light, which it’s not–I just really, really love them and used the things I’ve learned from their recipes when I was working on this particular recipe of my own.)

So no, this is not going to be the lowest-fat, carbiest-free meal that we post this month. But here are some things I did change to make this a healthier version of creamy Italian sausage soup:

  • I used lean Italian turkey sausage instead of full-fat pork Italian sausage.
  • To add smokiness, I used smoked paprika instead of bacon.
  • I left the skins on the potatoes to add fiber and nutrients.
  • To make it creamy, I basically used a thickened-up version base of our Guiltless Alfredo sauce. It’s definitely lighter than heavy cream or a traditional roux made with a lot more butter and flour.
  • Instead of using Parmesan in the sauce where it’s easy for the flavor to hide, I saved it for sprinkling on top of the soup–you get a lot more flavor that way with not nearly as many calories.

You’ll start by sauting Italian turkey or chicken sausage, crushed red pepper flakes, onion, garlic, and smoked paprika.

healthy copcat olive garden soup

You’ll then add some chicken broth and diced red potatoes and let it come to a simmer.  

copycat olive garden zuppa toscana

While the potatoes are cooking you’ll make an easy mixture of milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt.   It will cook until it thickens a little and then you pour it into your soup.

copycat olive garden soup

Once everything is mixed, toss in fresh spinach, season with additional crushed red pepper flakes and kosher salt to taste and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

copycat olive garden sausage potato soupLittle tip:  if you have people in your family who will complain about green stuff in their soup, just place the spinach in individual bowls (for those who want it) and ladle the hot soup over!  This is a family favorite at our house, and I bet you’ll love it, too!

healthy copycat recipe Olive garden Soup

Italian Sausage and Potato Soup

A creamy, flavorful soup.  Healthier version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana! 


  • 20 ounce lean Italian turkey or chicken sausage
  • 1/2 + teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 5-6 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 8 cups 2 boxes chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 3 ounces light cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach chopped


  • Remove the sausage from casings and crumble it into a large soup pot. Begin cooking it over medium heat and add red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, onion, and garlic. Saute until the sausage is fully cooked and drain if necessary. Add the chicken broth and Italian seasoning, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add diced potatoes, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook potatoes until tender.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, place the milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Heat the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, then add the milk mixture and cook over medium heat until thick (like a very thick cream soup or a stirrable pudding). When the potatoes are cooked, add the thickened milk mixture and chopped spinach. Season with additional crushed red pepper flakes and kosher salt to taste and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 8-10.


Author: kate jones
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Sara Wells
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. This was so good for dinner last night, and my whole family loved it, two toddlers and all:) I have made another “zuppa Toscano” recipe before, but it used cream, butter, sausage and bacon, and I felt like I was floating in fat by the time I was done eating it. . . This tasted JUST as good and I felt good after eating it! Thank you:) I seriously love your site and your recipes!

  2. I made this for dinner last night… Everyone loved it. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  3. This sounds delicious! I will definitely try this one out on the hub and kiddos. I will often bulk up a soup like this with a whole onion and maybe even some celery or carrots. You hardly notice them in the end product, but you are getting that extra little bit of veg into the soup!

  4. How did you read my mind and know I was looking for Olive Garden’s recipe if this to make this week? You guys are amazing! Making it tonight.

  5. o m g! zuppa toscana healthy version?!! 292 calories for 1 serving (if you do 8) YES PLEASE!!!!! yay yay yay!!!!

  6. Husband hates it when I make soup for dinner (“what are we DRINKING tonight?”), but he was raving about this one. I made a big batch so I could take some to a sick neighbor. Fresh bread and hot soup – so good!

  7. Brilliant idea for the thickener! I make a soup that’s much like this, but it’s pretty thin, and my husbands says, “What could you do to make this thicker?” So I’ll definitely be trying that trick, if not the entire recipe!

  8. I made this recipe last night and it was totally amazing. My daughter said it was the best soup I had made in a long time. Thanks ladies!

  9. oh that looks perfect for today, the weather is cold and rainy.

  10. So I’m thinking Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana made healthier? That’s one of my most favorites soups, in their restaurant and the homemade version, but I will have to try this without so much of the fat in it from the whipping cream!

    1. Yes, exactly! 🙂 I didn’t want to bring up the Olive Garden because it’s kind of a hot topic and I think this soup is way better than anything you’ll eat at the Olive Garden. 🙂

  11. This sounds YUMMY!!!!! Sounds like it’s not too bad nutrition wise either! I’m going to add this to my menu and try asap! BTW I love your site!! I just started mine a few wks ago but you ladies are proof that I can make it big and have all my dreams come true!! 🙂

  12. My mother-in-law just made the fattening version and though it looked good I was reluctant to eat it because I could see the fat floating on the top. I really want to try this one but I am on Weight Watchers Points program and need the nutritional information so I know what the points value is per cup. Any idea what the fiber, fat, protein and carbs are in this recipe?

    1. For the weight watchers point values you just need to break it down to each ingredient and add them all together. Then divide by the # of servings you dish it into. Make sense?

  13. this sounds yummy. I think i will make it tonight, nothing better then a hearty soup to warm you up!

  14. Okay, this is hitting the table tonight. I have to say, though, that I will fatten it back up. I don’t have turkey sausage, but I do have pork sausage. I don’t have smoked paprika, but I do have bacon. So much for the “healthy” of it! One of my resolutions this year is to use what I have instead of going out to buy more. Thanks for the great idea! I love all the obb soups, and I look forward to trying this one! Some of your fabulous breadsticks will be served with this one tonight!

  15. This is one of our favorite soups! We rarely make it anymore though because of how fattening it is and how pricey the ingredients are. It’s great to find a lighter recipe! We will definitely be trying this one out soon! Thank you!

  16. Does this freeze/re-heat well? Looks really good and I am always looking at things I can divide up to freeze for Hubby’s lunches.

  17. This looks like such a great recipe. It’s cold enough outside and this would definitely hit the spot.