Before I was vegan, I was OBSESSED with Olive Garden. You were guaranteed to find me there for any special occasion, or for Endless Pasta Bowl. Or pretty much every day for unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks.
Olive Garden has the BEST tasting soups, their salad dressing is famous, of course, and the breadsticks are heavenly.
As a vegan, I thought for sure Olive Garden would be off-limits. But I was pleasantly surprised at the number of vegan options available!
The breadsticks are vegan!! The garlic topping that is brushed on is made from soy, not dairy. The salad is vegan if you leave off the dressing and croutons, and the minestrone soup is vegan, along with any (unfilled) pasta with marinara or tomato sauce. Check this list for more vegan options.
Unfortunately, my favorite soup, the sausage and potato goodness that is Zuppa Toscana, is obviously not vegan or even vegetarian. I’ve gone without that soup for more than two years now, but I get serious cravings for it! I try to satisfy that craving with a basic vegan potato soup, but it’s just not the same!
When I came across a package of Tofurky Italian sausage in the grocery store, I knew exactly where it belonged — in a big pot of homemade Zuppa Toscana! If I could figure out how to veganize the recipe, my life would be complete.
I was stoked to find that the Tofurky Italian sausage gave a lot of its flavor to the soup, so I only had to add minimal ingredients and spices:
- vegetable broth
- 2 russet potatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 yellow onion
- salt and pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes
- coconut cream
And my huge pot of vegan Zuppa Toscana serves 6 people! And the leftovers are just as delicious!
Spirited Vegan’s note: I don’t want to change this part of the blog post because it would change the story and be untruthful, and I never ever want to do that! But I will add this: I tried the recipe with Field Roast Italian Sausage because the store I was in at the time didn’t carry Tofurky Italian sausage, and it was SO MUCH BETTER. Not that the Tofurky is bad, as it certainly lent a lot of its flavor to the soup, but Field Roast’s sausage is softer and healthier than Tofurky. It was the PERFECT texture for this soup.
Olive Garden Copycat Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- 1 lb package Field Roast Italian sausage or Tofurky or any other vegan brand
- 1 quart (32 ounces) vegetable broth (I used O Organics brand)
- 2 cups water
- 2 large russet potatoes peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 10 oz canned coconut cream this will have a higher fat content than coconut milk
- 2 cups curly kale stems removed, cut into ribbons
Mince garlic and chop the yellow onion.
Slice Tofurky Italian sausages into thin coins.
In a large soup pot, add the sliced Tofurky to a quarter cup of vegetable broth and cook over medium-high 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add garlic, onion, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and another quarter cup of broth and cook until onion is soft and translucent.
Meanwhile, peel and dice the russet potatoes.
Add diced potatoes to the pot, along with 2 cups water and the rest of the quart of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.
Lower heat to medium-low and simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cut the thick stems from curly kale leaves and slice the leaves into ribbons. You should have two packed cups, but it’s OK to have a little more if you love kale like I do!
The potatoes should be nice and soft after about 25 minutes of cooking. I found the Tofurky sausage softens up the longer you cook it, as well.
Add the sliced kale and 10 oz of canned coconut cream to the pot. (You’ll have some remaining if you’re using a 14 oz can -- I suggest using it as coffee creamer.)
Stir and cook another 2-3 minutes, until kale is soft.
Serve and enjoy.
Looking for more comfort food? Make your own vegan chili!