This recipe is by Laura Wright. She says it is a vegan version of the best selling soup at the Olive Garden, which I’ve never had since I don’t eat meat. I can now see why it is a favorite; this soup of hers is nourishing, flavorful, and satisfying. It tastes great in the mouth and feels contentedly happy in the stomach.
Zuppa Toscana traditionally has potatoes in it, but I like this version with butternut squash. We’ve grown lots of butternut squash in our garden this year, and are in the midst of harvesting them. They are wonderful in this!
Zuppa Toscana also usually has Italian sausage in it, but that is swapped out for veggies sausages here, with no loss of flavor or protein. Choose a type that has whole ingredients that you can pronounce. I show the ingredient list of mine below. Laura Write recommends Beyond Meat Hot Italian Sausage, which my store did not have. There is a lot of flexibility in the sausage here, including a real meat option if you prefer.
Vegan Zuppa Toscana Recipe
⅓ cup raw cashews
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 vegan veggie sausages, chopped
1 large yellow onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4 cups chopped squash)
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups vegetable stock, plus extra
4 cups chopped kale, lightly packed (from about 1 small bunch)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
chopped parsley, for garnish
In an upright blender, combine the cashews and a cup of boiling water. Let soak while preparing the soup.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the chopped vegan sausages, and brown them on all sides, breaking up the pieces. Once fully browned and cooked (after about 5 minutes), transfer the cooked sausage to a plate.
Add remaining olive oil to the pot and swirl. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, dried thyme, and dried oregano. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun dried tomatoes and stir again.
Add the chopped butternut squash and some big pinches of salt and pepper. Stir everything up and then pour in the vegetable stock. Place a lid on top of the pot, slightly askew to allow venting. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.
Once the squash is tender, add the chopped kale and simmer until it is soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add more stock (or water) if you need to at this point.
Blend the cashews in the water in the blender until completely smooth–like a thick milk. Pour the cashew cream into the pot and add the cooked veggie sausage. Stir. Bring to a boil and stir in the apple cider vinegar.
Taste the soup and adjust seasoning if needed.
Serve the Zuppa Toscana hot with chopped parsley on top.