Creamy, hearty, and zesty, this Vegan Zuppa Toscana is pure comfort food ready in just 30 minutes. Loaded with goodies like potatoes, kale, cashew cream (nut-free options available), vegan sausage and vegan bacon, you can choose to make all these elements for yourself or pick them up from the store--both are easy and so tasty in this delicious soup.
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Hey Internet, winter is coming… or it’s here, depending on the day (crazy Illinois weather). Either way, it’s cold, and the late night dog walks in the freezing wind have me craving soup like crazy.
I’d normally reserve new soup recipes for January and February, but I have made this soup so many times over the last few weeks, I think I just really need to share it today. You know, so you can enjoy it too. :)
It’s a few weeks before Christmas as I write this, and I honestly can imagine serving this soup at a holiday dinner, but it’s so dang easy that you could also just enjoy it as a weeknight warming meal.
Oh, and it makes a ton and the leftovers are fantastic. I’m not normally a leftovers girl and I was looking forward to this each day for the rest of the work week each time I made it.
Zuppa Toscana is not a very vegan-friendly dish, actually. I see that there are lots of people who go nuts over some Olive Garden version, but seeing as I haven’t eaten there since I was a kid, I’m not sure I’ve had it.
BUT, you know me: I love a challenge, especially when it comes to veganizing non-vegan dishes.
Veganizing Zuppa Toscana
So one of the major things in Zuppa Toscana is sausage. And I know I already have a recipe for vegan sausage on my site--that’s made from seitan.
But I also seem to have a fair amount of followers on my social channels that can’t have or don’t eat gluten.
So I wanted to come up with a new vegan sausage recipe--and I did. I made it from tofu. My tofu vegan sausage is brand new to the blog along with this recipe.
It’s in crumble form, though I reckon you could bind it with vegan egg replacer and stuff it into a vegan sausage casing if you’d like.
The cream was easy to replace with blended cashews (substitutions include blended sunflower seeds, coconut milk, or thick oat milk).
The broth was also easy because I relied on my friend, Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, but vegetable broth could work too.
Finally, I cheated a bit with the topping and used Violife vegan parmesan cheese, mostly because of how pretty it looks. But if you want to make your own, I do have a vegan parmesan topping that’s delicious and super quick to make.
And finally, the other elements like potatoes and other veggies are already vegan.
So let’s get into the rest of the recipe and some substitution ideas.
What You’ll Need
- Onion: I like to use a yellow onion for this, but sweet or white onions are good too. Omit if you can’t eat onions, soup will still taste good.
- Garlic: Again, you can omit this if you can’t eat it. You may notice I say up to a whole head of garlic--I did indeed use a whole head of garlic! In soups, the garlic really cooks down and just adds a lot of flavor, but doesn’t have that spicy bite that raw garlic has.
- Vegan Chicken Broth OR Bouillon: I use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed with water (about 1 teaspoon per cup) because it’s delicious, economical, and it lasts longer in the fridge than an open carton of broth. However you can use other options like vegan chicken broth in a carton or vegetable broth.
- Potatoes: I prefer Russet potatoes in this because they’re very hearty, but any will work! And you can peel them if you’d like but I personally prefer to leave the skin on.
- Kale: I used fresh Tuscan kale (perfect for this Tuscan soup!), but other varieties of kale (like lacinato/dinosaur kale) or other dark leafy greens will work fine. Make sure to remove any thick stems. Spinach can be used, but I’d stir it in just before serving as spinach is much more delicate than other dark greens.
- Vegan sausage: I used a half batch of my easy tofu based vegan sausage crumbles for this recipe. They are easy to just bake on a tray in the oven which you can even do while the soup cooks. Start them before you start prepping the soup. If you prefer seitan, I also have a seitan-based vegan sausage recipe. Or, feel free to use store-bought vegan sausage if you prefer (just crumble or dice it up, and brown it in a pan before adding to the soup (add near the end after the kale has wilted).
- Cashew cream: This is a very thick sauce made from blending equal parts raw cashews and water. If you do not have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you’ll need to soak your cashews in just boiled water for at least 30 minutes to a few hours. Alternatives include sunflower seed cream (same process with raw sunflower seeds but they’re a bit easier on the blender and are more allergy-friendly), canned coconut milk, or a thicker non-dairy milk (like oat) purchased from the refrigerator section. If using this option, I’d start with half a cup and add more if needed. Those thinner refrigerator non-dairy milks may thin the soup because of their high water content.
- Vegan bacon: I like to sprinkle on my vegan bacon bits because they’re also super easy and cheap to make, gluten-free, and are delicious and easier to access for some folks. Store-bought vegan bacon will also work though, just chop and cook until crisp in a pan.
- Vegan parmesan cheese: I used my new obsession, Violife vegan parmesan cheese and grated it with a microplane because it’s pretty and it tastes JUST LIKE parmesan to me. However, you’re welcome to use whatever you like--I even have an easy to make (literally one minute of shaking up stuff in a jar) vegan parmesan topping if you prefer. And the parmesan is just an optional topping anyway. Skip if you’d like and the soup will still be super flavorful.
How to Make Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- Like most of my savory dishes, start by sauteing the onion in a large nonstick pot. You can use a little olive oil or vegan butter if you’d like, or you can cook without oil and just add a little splash of water (like a tablespoon) each time the onions start to stick. Saute the onions either way for about 4 minutes or until softened and translucent.
- Add the garlic and saute for another minute, stirring continuously.
- Add the vegan chicken broth and the potatoes now and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
- Blend raw cashews (soak beforehand if you do not have a high-powered blender) with water until smooth. Set aside.
- Rip the kale from the stem and roughly chop.
- At the 7 or 8 minute mark, add the kale and stir until it wilts into the soup.
- When the potatoes are done, you can add the vegan sausage and the cashew cream to the pot, stirring and bringing to heat for about a minute or two.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately, topping with a generous amount of vegan bacon bits and grated vegan parmesan cheese or vegan parmesan topping. Enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftover soup for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months in a freezer safe airtight container.
More Vegan Soups
Soup is good food. Here are some of my favorite vegan soup recipes:
- Vegan Beef Stew
- Vegan Stew with Dumplings
- Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup
- Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Vegan Potato and Leek Soup
- Instant Pot Corn Chowder
- Vegan Cream of Chicken Soup
- Vegan Tom Kha
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. It’s rare that we’ll both lick the bowl, but we did!
We had a lot of leftovers from testing this recipe a few times to make sure it was perfect for you, and every day we were excited to eat more of the leftovers--it is quite a feat to make Mr. Zardyplants like leftovers so much!
This Vegan Zuppa Toscaa is:
- And perfect for a weeknight dinner, meal prep, or a holiday meal. It’s a crowd pleaser!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!