Italian Potato-Sausage Soup

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

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Italian Sausage and Potato Soup

  • Author: kate jones


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
  • 56 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.






  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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!! 🙂

  6. 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. 🙂

  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. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. I made this tonight and my husband LOVED it! I didn’t mention that it was half the calories of an olive garden Zuppa Tuscana and he kept asking me how I made it taste exactly the same. Our Best Bites might be one of the best things to happen to our marriage!

    1. what was the tip about smoked paprika vs liquid smoke? I must be blind and can’t find it. I couldn’t find smoked paprika, so I was thinking of using my liquid smoke… Will you share? Thank you!

  13. This was fantastic. I made it with kale instead of spinach, and double the amount. But everything else, I did per the recipe. Delish! Tons of extra red pepper at the end until my eyes watered and my throat burned, and the soup was the best Italian Sausage soup I’ve ever had. And I didn’t feel like vomiting after. Thanks Kate!

  14. Made this last night and it was amazing! I have a 7, 6, 2, and 11 month old and they couldn’t get enough of it. Even with the spinach, they didn’t care, because it tasted so good! Even my pickiest eater, who eats like once a month ate 2 bowls! Thanks for the recipe. The hubby is on a new diet so I was glad to find something to make that was so yummy and that he could still eat! You ladies are the best!

  15. I couldn’t find smoked paprika at Wal-Mart (I have 3 kids under the age of three so I wasn’t about to go store hopping trying to find the stuff) So I just used bacon, and threw in some paprika, but it probably could have done without. It was delicious, though! My husband said it’s a keeper! Thanks once again for sharing!

  16. Made this tonight, used kale instead of spinach as well, and it was a hit! My husband is super picky and doesnt like anything creamy, so when he saw me making the cream sauce he hit nervous. Needless to say, there was so reason to worry, he ate 2 bowls :). Thanks a ton for all the great recipes! This is one of 3-4 I have planned from you guys this week!

  17. This recipe calculates out to 55 total Weight Watchers points using the Weight Watchers recipe builder or 7 points per serving (assuming the recipe makes 8 servings).

  18. Making this for lunch again today. I love it! I made the newly-posted Idaho Sunrise recipe for breakfast and will use the leftover potato flesh for lunch. Both recipes have turned out to be quite frugal. Fabulous!

  19. It’s been so cold and snowy here that I switched up my menu and made this instead. I made it for my family and two other families in the neighborhood. My family loved it (my husband had two large bowlfuls which is unusual for him when it comes to soup) and one of the moms I took it to already sent a text requesting the recipe! It was fantastic (and much better than Olive Gardens I might add!). Thanks so much.

    1. I’ve frozen it in ziplock baggies and then microwaved for lunch with no problem. Just don’t fill the baggies when the soup is still hot because it might make the bag soft enough to melt a little and rip (possibly learned from experience…).

  20. Made this soup tonight for me and my sweetie… BEST. SOUP. EVER. I omitted the flour by accident and it was fine. This is a WeightWatchers friendly item, and we LOVE you for that!

  21. Made this tonight for dinner and my boyfriend and I both loved it! A couple of things that I would note just because they weren’t super clear in the recipe: 1) For me at least, the cream mixture took less time to thicken than the potatoes did to soften (though I had to sub in regular old brown potatoes for the reds) so next time I wouldn’t start heating that up right away, and 2) you have to stir the cream mixture frequently while it’s heating, or it will get lumpy. There is no mention of that in the recipe (though afterwards I was like duh) but I left mine for a minute or two and it got lumpy so I had to re-blend it before continuing to heat it. I halved the recipe and it made a good 4-5 servings. I had to use chicken sausage (couldn’t find Turkey at my Kroger) and that worked nicely. Definitely adding this one to the recipe book!

  22. Thank you! I had a similar recipe at my mom’s ward potluck and wanted the recipe but didn’t know who made it. This was delicious and my husband is still raving about it today, and he isn’t a fan of soups cause he says they don’t fill him up. New Favorite… Last week I tried your chicken tortilla soup and my sister-in-law dropped in from out of town and she wanted the recipe. My husband was sad there were no leftovers after our dinner party too.

  23. I made this tonight and took some to my neighbor without even trying it first, because I always love all your recipes. After it was delivered though I got a little bit nervous that it wasn’t going to be good, but my whole family devoured it so the worry was for nothing. Thanks for the great recipe!

  24. Hey ladies! do you think this will be ok with chicken itallian sausage? my store doesn’t have turkey and we are trying to eat healthy! thanks!

  25. Loved this! As did my husband who doesn’t like potatoes and doesn’t like soups that aren’t red. I added carrots as well–they’re almost red, right? Thank you thank you for another great recipe!

  26. This soup was so easy to throw together after work (I keep pre-cooked sausage in the freezer to save time) and was delicious. It was so flavorful, it didn’t even need the cheese on top–and I’m never one to skimp on cheese.

  27. My husband and I loved this! He kept remarking how good it was and how it tasted like the one at Olive Garden. I got home from the store and realized I had forgotten the cream cheese. I basically doubled the roux mixture (4T butter, 5T flour) and the milk still thickened up nicely. Also: I couldn’t find smoked paprika anywhere, so I used regular paprika with a little smoked hickory salt.

  28. Got a dozen bread sticks from Olive Garden for a few bucks and served them with this recipe. Now people think I’m cool.

  29. Okay, I know this is a really dumb question, but does the cream cheese need to be softened first, or does the blender do a good job of getting it nice & creamy if it’s cold?

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